Editorial: Hopeful that Brown can fix UNC tutoring program

Mar. 21, 2013 @ 08:37 PM

On May 6, Michelle Brown officially takes on the unenviable task of repairing the tarnished reputation of UNC’s Academic Support Program for Student Athletes.

Last week, university officials announced the hire via email. Brown, who currently holds a similar job at Florida Atlantic University, succeeds the interim director, Harold Woodard.

The ASPSA program came under scrutiny thanks to athletic and academic scandals at UNC. The university earned sanctions from the NCAA after tutor Jennifer Wiley provided improper benefits to football players. Then came the strife over “no meet” classes, improper grade changes and fraudulently run independent study courses - courses disproportionately populated by athletes, some steered there by academic counselors - in UNC’s African and Afro-American Studies Department.

Since then, Chancellor Holden Thorp ordered the ASPSA program moved from the College of Arts and Sciences to the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost for clearer separation of academic and athletic responsibilities.

The Chapel Hill Herald’s Gregory Childress reported that UNC Provost Bruce Carney and Bobbi Owen, senior associate dean for undergraduate education, shared optimism about Brown’s hiring in their announcement.

“Her hiring marks a significant milestone toward making the changes in the ASPSA that Chancellor Thorp announced last August as part of the campus-wide steps we have taken to strengthen the relationship between academics and athletics,” they wrote.

Brown, a former student-athlete herself, is a 1992 graduate of West Virginia University. She received all-conference honors playing Division I volleyball while earning a bachelor’s in international studies and French. She has a masters in foreign language from WVU and a doctorate in higher education from Florida Atlantic University.

She takes over a program that serves 800 student-athletes and includes four associate directors, academic counselors, specialists in reading, writing and learning, and a tutor coordinator.

We’re heartened that UNC leaders feel such confidence in their choice to lead the department. Of course, only time will tell if Brown can succeed in fixing the damage and building something that benefits students, the university and the community without embarrassing scandals.

We wish her the best.