By Amanda Raymond
Updated: 8 hours ago
When Zach Ferguson heard about the fraudulent classes at UNC, it did not take him long to realize that he had been enrolled in one before he graduated in 2007.
Ferguson — now enrolled in the UNC School of Law — said he contacted the University about the course to see if he could receive tuition credit to take a class for his current degree.
When he initially contacted UNC administrators, the University did not offer anything to compensate for the class.
UNC decided to offer some free courses for students who took a certain type of fraudulent courses after facing an audit from its accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, last summer.
Ferguson’s class — along with several other courses in the newly renamed Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies — was determined to be fraudulent in an investigation conducted by former Gov. Jim Martin last year.
Ferguson said he had taken several classes in the department and said they were some of the best he had ever taken.
But he said the class he took with Julius Nyang’oro was different. It had one assignment for the semester, and Ferguson said Nyang’oro told the class that unless they had problems, there was no reason to attend class.
Even when Ferguson contacted Nyang’oro for guidance, he said he only received brief answers in return.
“I got the impression that he didn’t really want to be bothered by me a lot,” he said.
Assistant Provost and University Registrar Chris Derickson responded to Ferguson’s request with a letter stating his degree was safe because he had enough credit hours.
His course was also classified as Type 2, which UNC does not offer the option of retaking for credit. The courses are defined as ones in which the identity of the instructor was not confirmed or the instructor of the course could not confirm whether the course section was taught, along with other characteristics that could have provided evidence of potential misconduct.
Lee May, associate dean and director of the academic advising program, said students who took Type 1 classes were contacted with the option of retaking the course.
According to Martin’s report, Type 1 courses are classified as classes that the instructor or department chairman said had not been taught. Remedy options included taking a free, supplemental class, taking an exam or providing evidence to prove they did the classwork.
Derickson’s letter to Ferguson said Type 1 courses were of greatest concern for UNC and the accrediting agency.
May said in an email she directs students who took non-Type 1 classes to Derickson.
Ferguson said it was never about the grades — he wanted the education he was promised.
“My problem was UNC did not do their half of the agreement. The agreement was I would pay them tuition money and they would give me an education,” he said.
Ferguson used the skills he learned from law school to fight for some kind of compensation. Eventually, he was allowed to take a free supplemental class under the same conditions as those who took a Type 1 course.
Ferguson said his conflict with UNC will benefit the campus in the long run.
“I think it makes our University stronger to shine a light on these things.”
Published October 29, 2013 in Campus