What a professor says is missing from UNC’s response to SACS

A public policy professor at UNC-Chapel Hill said the university failed to address an important issue in a report to its accrediting body.

Professor Hodding Carter III said the administration should be better prepared to respond to future whistleblowers similar to Mary Willingham, a former academic adviser who publicly criticized literacy levels of UNC athletes amid investigations into academic fraud at the school.

“From here on our first instinct should not be to shoot the messenger, it should be to come to grips with what was said,” Carter said. “A great university shot itself repeatedly… in the foot, in the head, in its moral center, over and over.”

The university sent a report this month to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) asking the group to find the school in compliance with 18 accrediting standards in question.

The 220-page document lists and describes actions taken and reforms put in place in recent years to ensure academic fraud doesn’t recur at the school.

Carter said he agrees that university officials have installed steps to move forward from an academic scandal that has riddled the university since 2011.

But, Carter said, the report does not illustrate how the university plans to better respond to crises in the future, crises he said are inevitable.

“Those problems won’t arise again,” Carter said. “What will arise again are things, because this is a human institution, after all, which will require candor.”

SACS has been watching the university closely since 2011, when claims of academic improprieties first surfaced. The university was in good standing with its accrediting body by the summer of 2014.

Kenneth Wainstein, a former federal prosecutor who was hired by the university to investigate the irregularities, documented new improprieties in his report in October 2014. His report revealed the scandal lasted longer, affected more students, and implicated additional faculty members than previously known.

According to SACS officials, the new information didn’t agree with what the university reported to them in 2013.

In its response this month, the university said new information was made available by Deborah Crowder and Julius Nyang’oro, two former employees who the university said were at the center of the wrongdoing. Prior to Wainstein’s investigation they were unavailable for interviews.

The university insists in the report that there has been no wrongdoing since 2011, regardless of the new information brought to light by Wainstein.

The report states, “While Carolina continues to take these issues very seriously and without offering excuses, it is also critical to make it clear that the Wainstein investigation, like prior investigations, found no evidence of any academic improprieties occurring since the summer of 2011, and no evidence that these academic improprieties extended beyond courses in one department in the College of Arts and Sciences.”

“If nothing is done except to prove we’ve learned how to master PR, then the university is going to be doomed as a place of integrity that it’s understood to be,” Carter said.

“One of the things you’ve got to decide is what price you’re willing to pay for the essence of the integrity of a place,” Carter said.

Read UNC’s full report to SACS here.




How I started my career when I was two

“She’s driving me crazy!” my older brother would say as the two of us shared the backseat of the car. There was only about a foot of space separating Ben from my incessant curiosity of the world around me.

“Why does the sun follow us, but stay in the same place?”

“How much money does the president make?”

“Does chocolate milk come from brown cows?”

“Why didn’t this popsicle make my hair standup, like it did to the kid in the commercial?”

“Why are power lines on the side of the road?”

You can imagine how annoying these questions would become in the confinement of a small vehicle.

Every toddler is curious, I know; but this knack never left me.

It continued during elementary school and middle school. I may have eaten a lot of lunches in silence as punishment for my chatty habits, but I knew the child who sat next to me in class better than my teacher or my fellow students.

If there was an opportunity to move my mouth, I’d take it. Need someone to read to the class? I got this. Want to play classroom? I’ll be the teacher. We’re going to dad’s basketball game (he’s a high school coach)? I’m sitting with the cheerleaders.

It followed me onto the softball field and the volleyball court. I may not have been the best athlete, but no one shouted a cheer or chant louder than me. In middle school, I got the “Ruffles” award, which was a bag of chips that was given to me for being such a ham – the one who energized the team and lightened things up when we needed a lift in a tough match. “Ruffles” was a friendly nickname. I found the award embarrassing at the time, but it’s now one of my favorite trophies.

In high school I was a cashier at a grocery store. I still don’t know how many items I was supposed to scan per minute, but I do know I never once achieved the goal. I saw more value in taking time to speak with customers.

If I didn’t know what my peers were doing, I found out from their moms at the store. I knew all about the lives of the church ladies’ grandkids. I knew the mens’ favorite beers and sports teams. I was given advice from old couples, who wanted nothing more than to have someone with whom to share their wisdom. And if you didn’t like talking, you didn’t want to get in my line, because you would have to wait for my conversation with a customer to be over before I would move on to the next one (most of those people go to self-checkout these days, anyway). Yes, this got me in trouble with management quite often.

That’s okay, though. Bagging groceries wasn’t my plan  for life, but talking to people? That’s what I really wanted to do for my career.

People are interested in people. It’s why we spend hours per day on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s why we share YouTube videos of people lip syncing to a Frozen song on their dash cams with 5-year-olds. It’s why we turn on the news in the morning or at night. It’s why we watch movies and Netflix.

Everyone is curious. Everyone has questions. But not everyone has a desire to find answers and share stories.

I do.

There are several reasons I want to be a storyteller, but most of them are things that I’ve picked up from other storytellers:

News is the first draft of history.

Local news ignites change in communities.

Events in the news are often heartbreaking,  but people’s resilience afterward restores faith in the human spirit.

They’re all noble reasons to be a reporter, but they’re not mine.

I want to be a reporter because I believe the time spent speaking with one another is valuable. I believe conversation causes understanding, and understanding closes gaps that separate people by creating compassion and empathy.

Being a reporter also means it’s my job to find out where chocolate milk comes from and to learn the president’s salary. I’ll be sure to share those answers with you, Ben.

Photo from Tumblr. Click for source.
Photo from Tumblr. Click for source.

Bin 54 on a budget, Chapel Hill

Picture from visitchapelhill.org
Picture from visitchapelhill.org

Bin 54 in Chapel Hill was one of OpenTable’s Diners’ Choice Top 100 Best Steakhouses in 2014. As is the case at any good steakhouse, you should be ready to pay between $70 and $100 at Bin 54 for a full-course dinner with drinks.

If you’re like me $75 is what you spend per week on food. I’m guilty of splurging occasionally, but it’s rare that I can drop a full week’s food allowance on two glasses of wine and a steak. But there is a way to indulge in the ambiance of a nice restaurant without depleting your funds.

Bin 54 serves appetizers 50 percent off of the menu price Monday through Thursday. You must sit at the bar or at one of the tables in the bar section (pictured at the top of this post) to get the deal. You wouldn’t want to do this with a large group, but it’s perfect for dinner with a friend or two.

My friend and I ordered two appetizers to share, and we each ordered a half-size salad. You get complimentary bread and butter. We did not leave hungry. It cost each of us about $20.

Bin 54 Sliders


I recommend the Bin 54 sliders. This appetizer comes with three mini burgers served on brioche buns with caramelized onions and goat cheese. They were awesome. Our second appetizer was a cheese plate. You get three different cheeses with pita/crackers, fruit and walnuts. The type of cheeses vary each visit.

Cheese Plate


I ordered the half-size wedge salad, served with carrots, green onions, bacon, cherry tomatoes and roasted garlic ranch dressing. My friend ordered the caesar salad. Personally I think mine was better.

Wedge Salad


I also ordered Bin 54’s Not-So Old Fashioned (muddled strawberries and oranges, aged balsamic vinegar, and bourbon; served on the rocks with a splash of club soda and a slice of strawberry). Most house drinks are between $10 and $15. If you really feel like throwing away money and defeating the purpose of this post, you can get the Millionaire Martini for $135. The pretentious drink is served in a gold-flake rimmed martini glass.

Not-So Old Fashioned


Check out the full menu online. If you want a full-course dinner at Bin 54, try it out during Triangle Restaurant Week from January 26 through February 1. You can get a three-course dinner at Bin 54, and several other participating restaurants, for just $30.

Carrboro protects the bees’ needs

Carrboro is the third “Bee City” in the country in October, joining a national movement to protect pollinators.

Bee City USA encourages city leaders to celebrate and raise awareness of the contribution bees and other pollinators make to the world.

The movement began in Asheville. Talent, Ore. was second to join the hive, followed by Carrboro.

Watch the story above to find out why Carrboro aldermen and local beekeepers think it’s important to protect honeybees and other pollinators in their community.

If you want to buy local honey or learn more about the business of bees, you can visit Marty Hanks and other local beekeepers at the Carrboro Farmers Market. You’ll find them there every Wednesday afternoon from 3:00 to 6:00, and every Saturday morning from 9:00 until Noon.

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New York City


New York City makes dreams seem tangible.

The irony of that statement is that the majority of people in the city haven’t achieved their goals, and they live everyday not knowing if they’ll accomplish whatever dream brought them to Manhattan.

I think that’s why I love it so much.

I’m often accused of being a dreamer. I say “accused” because that label isn’t always used as a compliment. There are some who would say people like me live life wearing rose-colored glasses. I ignore naysayers, pessimists, and people who tell me to set realistic goals, because I think that’s depressing, and even more limiting.

In the city I feel like I’m surrounded by people like me. My goals are unrealistic by normal standards, but no one in New York wants to be normal. It’s great.

The city is filled with dreamers determined to make their goals reality. When people run out of hope or get tired, they move away. It’s a city that eliminates the pessimistic and the hopeless by its very nature; and that’s a beautiful thing for those of us determined to beat the system.

I was in New York most recently for a networking trip sponsored by UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism. The school reaches out to alumni, and matches current students with professionals working in each student’s chosen field of study: broadcast, marketing, advertising, public relations, etc.

There were four broadcast students on the trip, including myself. We had appointments with a producer of CBS Sunday Morning, a recruiter at NBC Universal, and with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin. I also made it onto the set of CBS This Morning, thanks to a connection made through my job at WRAL, a CBS affiliate in Raleigh.

The opportunity to hear advice from reporters, producers, recruiters, and executives living and working in the world in which I hope to be successful was an invaluable experience.

Everything in New York feels bigger than me, smarter than me, better than me – from the tall buildings, to the locals who know the best brunch spots, and the professionals with successful careers I hope to emulate someday.

The city is a challenge, and I accept.

I’ll be back, New York.

WRAL’s 6th Annual College Road Trip

WRAL-TV’s Annual College Road Trip features local college campuses and provides advice for students preparing for college.

I had the opportunity to host the program this year – one of many opportunities I’ve stumbled upon through my job as the weekend assignment editor at WRAL.

During this year’s program, the College Foundation of North Carolina discussed resources fro scholarships, loans, FAFSA and more. The Better Business Bureau provided advice to help young adults avoid identity theft and explained why students are easy targets. Dr. Christine Hall, a writer for WRAL’s Go Ask Mom who helps families navigate the road to college, provided tips to help students stand out on their college applications.

Click below to watch the program.



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