Monday, July 30, 2012

Dubois: Lessons from Penn State for UNCC?

The Penn State child sexual abuse scandal and the unprecedented NCAA sanctions levied against the school are making other schools take notice of their governance structures too.

UNC Charlotte Chancellor Phil Dubois told the Observer's editorial board today that he'll be going through, with the UNC Charlotte board of trustees, the Freeh report. That report lambasted Penn State officials including legendary Coach Joe Paterno and former school president Graham Spanier for failing to protect at least 10 children who were victimized by Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant coach.

The report also took to task the Penn State board of trustees for failing in its oversight duties.

The Freeh report has a number of recommendations about structural or systemic changes and checks and balances needed at Penn State.

"I want to go through them with our board to see if there is anything we need to take a look at," said Dubois. "For example, if you talk about something at your board meeting involving litigation, making sure that you also talk about other things that are risk issues that don't relate to litigation - yet...
It's just a simple thing. But the [Freeh] report pointed out that after the [Penn State] president first talked to the board [about the Sandusky allegations] that there was no subsequent conversation."

Dubois said he'd be "very surprised" if other universities were not having similar conversations about their "governance" following what happened at Penn.

He also noted that one issue that was pinpointed in the report about "the president's span of control" was one he could relate to. The report posed the question of whether the job as Penn State president had become so big that it was difficult to pay sufficient attention to all the things needing attention. "You've got too many people throwing things at you everyday."

It's good to hear Dubois talk about delving into the Freeh report to see what lessons can be learned so such a failure of governance can be avoided at UNC Charlotte. Hopefully other universities are doing the same, and not simply chalking up what happened at Penn State as an anomaly that couldn't happen anywhere else. The scale of the failure at Penn State might be hard to replicate elsewhere. But a culture that gives athletics out-sized influence, or that is not diligent about investigating and probing allegations of wrong-doing can happen anywhere.

With football coming to UNC Charlotte in the fall of 2013, school officials already have a structure in place that puts the right emphasis on academics over athletics. Dubois says the culture between athletics and academics is strong at UNC Charlotte.
"The athletics director has sat on the chancellor's cabinet since forever," he said. "The academic advisors [for athletes] report to academic affairs. The support services for the student athletes are in the academic center."

That seems to put the focus exactly where it belongs. Student-athletes are students first. It's good to hear some college presidents have the priority in the right order.

Fannie Flono


Garth Vader said...

:: It's good to hear some college presidents have the priority in the right order. ::

Obviously not, if they're fielding a football team on the backs of real students via mandatory fees to pay off construction costs with interest to big banks.

Nugget said...

Garth, those students you speak of (not for) voted overwhelmingly to start and help fund football. There has probably never been a cheaper time to borrow money for capital projects like building a stadium. As an alumnus donor I have increased my giving since football was announced as have many, many others. You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. Do some research next time.

And by the way, the Charlotte 49ers have never committed a major NCAA violation. Never. The people of NC can be very proud of this University's athletic program.

Skippy said...

Left out course is that Spanier is a liberal and a lying one at that:

It wasn't the only time Spanier rigged an inept investigation for the purpose of finding nothing. In 2010, his investigators found that Penn State climatologist Michael Mann had done nothing wrong when he invented his "hockey stick trick," to "hide the decline" and lend false credibility to climate change theory. The difference between the Mann investigation and the Sandusky investigation is that one covered up a sex offender and the other covered up a fraud.

Alannc44 said...

Let's hope Appalachian State is keeping up with this mess. (see story last year about two coeds being raped by football players). Investigation was dropped.

Mark Caplan said...

Question for Pres. Dubois: When will UNC Charlotte set up the settlement fund for the inevitable brain-injury lawsuits?

Anonymous said...

Garth - allow me to introduce you to the 21st century. There are tons of students - including high-achieving ones - that take longer than 4 years to graduate. You may have heard of these new-fangled things called internships and co-op programs. These programs usually extend a student's stay at a university for 6-18 months. There were certainly some students still at UNCC when the fees kicked in. And for the rest of the 2011 student body, they had known about the new fees for 3 years, and still chose to attend UNCC rather than go somewhere else or, for those there when the fees were approved, transfer out. So it is a very true statement that the current students at UNCC support the extra fees.

This is EXACTLY the way extra-curricular activities should be paid for - by the people who use them and support them.