The inept handling of two cases by the office of UNC General
Counsel Leslie Stohm has brought the University a great deal of
notoriety and has cost the University many hundreds of thousands
of dollars at a time when dollars are in short supply. According
to a statement by Hugh Stevens, nationally known First Amendment
and media lawyer, the University may have to pay hundreds of
thousands of dollars more in legal expenses for the newpaper
attorneys in the public information lawsuit below.
The Yankaskas Fiasco
In this case a highly regarded UNC cancer researcher, settled her dispute with
the University today, agreeing to dismiss her appeal, provide the
University with a full release of all claims - and leave the
University no later than Dec. 31. Yankaskas received a pay cut
and demotion for her role in a 2007 hack that exposed the names,
addresses and birth dates of women whose data were collected as
part of the Carolina Mammography Registry. The University also
agreed to pay Yankaskas $175,000 toward her legal fees, reinstate
her as a full professor and rescind a 48 percent salary cut that
reduced her annual pay from $178,000 to $93,000.
The Football Fiasco
According to the UNC News Bureau
"UNC-Chapel Hill has received more than 80 public records
requests related to the football investigation. One public
records officer has spent more than 600 hours on public
records requests on this issue over the past three-and-a-half
months. The University has provided thousands of pages of
documents in response to the requests. Chancellor Thorp
authorized hiring additional staff to help meet the demand for
reviewing and responding to football-related public records
The Charlotte Observer, The (Raleigh) News & Observer and other
media organizations sued top UNC Chapel Hill officials Thursday
in an attempt to get records related to the two-pronged NCAA
investigation of the football program. ... national media
associations have written letters to Congress and adopted
resolutions citing concerns over the use of the student privacy
law to withhold public documents.
Based on the advice of Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Leslie
Strohm, Chancellor Holden Thorp said "The University is 100
percent committed to complying with our obligations under public
records laws. ... but we can't ignore federal and state law".
"The University is entrusted with lots of confidential
information about our students. They and their families expect
us to hold that information in confidence because it's
required by federal law and because it's the right thing to
do. A football player has the same basic privacy rights as any
student on campus."
Evidently she was mistaken since Superior Court Judge Howard
Manning ordered the records to be turned over in May and the
State Court of Appeals quickly denied a temporary hold on the
records which revealed that a group of Tar Heel players
accumulated more than $13,000 in 395 parking citations over a 3
1/2 year period as well as 110 questionable calls by a UNC
football recruiter to a sports agent.
Tudor: UNC's Butch Davis must go September 30, 2010
Butch Davis got hugged. Bonnie Yankaskas got slugged February 20, 2011
A third UNC Fiasco - AHEC, Carolina North, and Horace Williams airport Why must AHEC doctors drive to RDU?
Horace Williams Airport is still operating as of July 2012 and will continue to operate for the foreseeable future
These prominent cases at UNC-Chapel Hill raise difficult issues about what happens to the leader when things go wrong. Leslie Strohm and the University administration have similarly blundered in the Villarosa affair.
Last updated October 26, 2012