If you rely on News Feed in Facebook to find my posts, you're missing most of them. On average, only 16% of updates in Facebook make it into News Feeds. Let me suggest that you subscribe to me in Facebook, follow me on Twitter (@ccengct), or use an RSS reader.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It keeps getting worse at UNC-CH

We knew that bogus academic credits were granted to athletes at UNC Chapel Hill -- the flagship of the UNC System, a Public Ivy of academic esteem, the pride of many North Carolinians, and a prodigious spender of taxpayer dollars. We knew that these bogus academic credits kept at least one star athlete, Julius Peppers, eligible to play. Now the Vice Chancellor for University Advancement -- the #1 rainmaker, in other words -- has resigned after accusations that he spent university money on unauthorized travel with his lover, a fellow UNC-CH fundraiser and the mother of a former UNC-CH basketball player. Let's parse this.

  • Don't be surprised that UNC-CH or any university employs professional fundraisers and allocates them a fat budget to use. The billions of dollars that many universities have accrued didn't arrive as unsolicited checks in the mail. Fundraising is an integral activity of every major university; it must be, in order for the universities to enjoy the lifestyle to which they've become accustomed. It's no overstatement to observe that universities are the Second Estate of today's society. I believe the exaltation of universities has clearly reached the point of diminishing returns. Money corrupts. Having granted the universities enough rope, we now see them proverbially hanging themselves through their excesses and laissez-faire management.
  • UNC-CH first argued that it applied its employment policies in such a way as to prevent a truly egregious case of nepotism. As the whole story emerged, however, it became clear that the Vice Chancellor was guilty of at least poor judgment if not unduly using his clout to obtain a job for his lover. How many other university administrators have done likewise?
  • The Dental Foundation of North Carolina, a non-profit created explicitly and solely as a funding conduit into the UNC-CH School of Dentistry, has refused to open its records. (The woman in question worked for the Dental Foundation for part of the period of concern.) The foundation argues that state law does not oblige it to release records. The courts of the State of North Carolina will have to decide that matter. But in the court of public opinion, the Dental Foundation has already lost. It's just another example of arrogance and the lack of transparency at UNC-CH. What else are they hiding?
  • Does not the NCAA care that the mother of a college athlete was put on the payroll of a university or a foundation closely tied to the university? It's absurd for the NCAA to shake down an athlete over a $10 meal while ignoring a $95,000 annual salary offered to an athlete's parent. The professional qualifications of the parent, whatever they might be, are irrelevant to the point I'm making.
  • Are fans and alumni of North Carolina State University digging up dirt to hurt their arch-rival institution, UNC-CH? I don't know, but to me it's not a relevant question. Over the years NCSU has been rightfully skewered by the press. NCSU is no better, I think.
  • The ongoing investigation into UNC-CH is a tribute to Raleigh's News & Observer. The next time someone pronounces newspapers to be dead, let's remember how important and apparently how irreplaceable they remain.