Jan Boxill, a former UNC-Chapel Hill faculty leader implicated in the fake class scandal, has resigned – months after the university took action to fire her.
The resignation was effective Feb. 28, according to a statement released Thursday by Rick White, associate vice chancellor for communications and public affairs. UNC gave Boxill notice of its intent to fire her for misconduct, according to a letter to her on Oct. 22.
That was the same day the university released the Wainstein report, which detailed the extent of an academic and athletic scandal that stretched almost two decades and involved about 3,100 students in bogus classes and independent studies. A disproportionate share were athletes, and the scheme led to high grades that kept some of them eligible to play.
The report by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein showed that Boxill knew about the university’s bogus African and Afro-American Studies classes, steered athletes to them and gave them inappropriate academic help. She also suggested to AFAM staff what grades players should receive.
Boxill was chair of the faculty, a teaching professor of philosophy and a counselor to the UNC women’s basketball team. She was also director of the Parr Center for Ethics, but was stripped of that position on Oct. 22.
The Oct. 22 dismissal letter from Provost Jim Dean to Boxill suggested that she also used her own department – philosophy – to enroll students in independent study classes that required “minimal academic expectations and that were offered at times to accommodate student-athletes.”
Efforts to reach Boxill on Thursday were unsuccessful. She has not commented publicly on the allegations against her.
Dean’s letter to Boxill said there was “compelling evidence that over a period of several years you knowingly participated in grossly improper practices in your roles as a member of the faculty and an academic advisor to student athletes.”
The letter, released Thursday, accused Boxill of several acts of misconduct:
▪ Requesting that AFAM employees provide specific grades to students.
▪ Steering athletes to AFAM courses that she knew were not overseen or taught by faculty, required only a paper and were graded by former office manager Deborah Crowder.
▪ Editing and writing portions of text inserted into the papers of the students she tutored.
▪ Allowing students to enroll in independent study classes in philosophy that required little academic work.
“I write this letter with genuine and deep regret,” Dean’s letter said. “You have been a well-regarded teacher, mentor, colleague and leader in the University community for many years. However, your record of outstanding service does not outweigh your profoundly flawed and unethical acts recounted in the Wainstein Report.”
Besides removing her as director of the ethics center, Dean ordered Boxill to “cease immediately” any activities involving student-athletes, including her work as a public address announcer for women’s field hockey and as radio color analyst for women’s basketball.
The revelations in the Wainstein report were not the first concerns raised about Boxill.
In 2012, as chair of the faculty, she had encouraged last-minute edits to a faculty report on the scandal. She told her colleagues it would be best to remove Crowder’s name from the report, along with a reference that Crowder was “extremely close” to people in athletics. Boxill said that could raise “further NCAA issues.”
In emails among each other, faculty committee members expressed worry about Boxill’s intrusion. But later they backed Boxill and said they did not view her requests as an attempt to suppress information to protect athletics.
The university’s statement Thursday said Boxill had been in the process of appealing the university’s decision to fire her. “Dr. Boxill has indicated her intent to seek retirement benefits based on her years of service as provided to state employees under North Carolina law,” said the statement from White.
Boxill was one of four university employees that Chancellor Carol Folt sought to fire after the Wainstein report.
Others out of a job
The others were:
▪ Timothy J. McMillan, a senior lecturer in what was formerly known as the Department of African and Afro-American Studies. Wainstein’s report found that McMillan knew about the fake classes and helped the architect of the scheme, Crowder, grade them. Crowder was a departmental manager and not a faculty member. McMillan has resigned.
▪ Jaimie Lee, an academic counselor in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, who had steered athletes to the fake classes and asked the former chairman of the AFAM department to create one. UNC officials said she was given “notice of discontinuation” of her job on Oct. 22.
▪ Beth Bridger, another former academic counselor in the athlete academic support program, who left UNC in 2013 but had recently taken a similar job at UNC Wilmington. Officials there confirmed her job had been terminated on Oct. 22. Wainstein found Bridger had delivered a slide presentation for football coaches warning them that the paper classes were ending with Crowder’s impending retirement in 2009.
One of the reasons UNC-Chapel Hill moved to fire Jan Boxill in October was that she allowed athletes to be enrolled in independent studies in the Department of Philosophy “that involved minimal academic expectations.”
This was not the first indication that the university’s athletic and academic scandal stretched beyond the Department of African and Afro-American Studies. Others include:
▪ The former admissions director of the graduate school says the school was pressured by the athletic department to admit unqualified athletes to graduate studies in order to maintain eligibility.
▪ A Naval Weapons Systems class in 2007 was filled with athletes (30 of 38 students), including six men’s basketball players. Average grade: 3.63.
▪ A presentation by two academic counselors to football coaches in 2009 – when counselors were worried about losing the bogus AFAM classes – indicated other places that athletes had been placed to help maintain eligibility: a senior level education course, two Portuguese classes, a naval science class, an exercise science class, and a Swahili class. The presentation seemed to indicate that those classes, too, were in jeopardy.