There’s a new scandal brewing at UNC Chapel Hill. As a part of their investigative reporting, the News and Observer has requested internal documents from the university’s dental foundation. The university has claimed the documents are not public records because the foundation is a “separate” not for profit organization.
The News and Observer responded with a harsh editorial, UNC made some bad calls:
One factor that brought all this to The N&O’s attention was an audit of the foundation helping the dental school, an audit that led to the resignation of the head of that foundation, who had been Tami Hansbrough’s boss. The N&O has been trying to obtain a copy of the dental foundation audit and related expense records, but has been told by foundation officials that those things are not public records. If they’re connected to a public university’s dental school and its fundraising, then they are public records and university and foundation officials only deepen suspicions when they try to claim otherwise. Thorp should support the release of the records immediately.
UNC chancellor Holden Thorp’s claims that the foundation is separate from the university are laughable. Try giving money to the foundation online, you’re redirected the university’s development site. The foundation appears to be staffed by UNC employees, with @unc email addresses. Just take a look below at this screen shot of the dental foundation’s website… which just so happens to be located on a university url: https://www.dentistry.unc.edu/foundation/
The foundation staff are even listed in the UNC Staff Directory.
It’s quite clear that the UNC Chapel Hill School of Dentistry’s Dental Foundation is very much a part of NC’s public university and thus subject to public scrutiny and transparency. For some time now I have called on UNC President Tom Ross to make a leadership change at Carolina, and could not agree more with The N&O’s editorial conclusion, “With a scandal in the football program that resulted in a coach’s dismissal and fraud investigations involving the African studies curriculum, Thorp should now understand the necessity of public disclosure and candor.”