As the investigation into the disappearing SCSU transcripts widens, one thing that’s apparent is President Potter’s public disinterest in the subject:
Chemistry Prof. Tamara Leenay also noticed discrepancies in 2012 and gave the documentation to McKenna. “It was just odd, all of the sudden, these grades are being changed,” she said.
Leenay said she has been out of state on vacation and did not meet with federal investigators. She also said that since she discovered the discrepancies and shared them with McKenna, no one from the administration has talked to her about the issue or asked for her records.
That’s a rather odd reaction to a potentially explosive situation. It’s been over a year since Prof. Leenay gave Prof. McKenna this documentation. Why wouldn’t the University contact her?
Since this began, the administration’s position has been that this is just a bureaucratic mix-up. The administration won’t even admit that this is worthy of being an investigation:
Admin: Sure so then we have as to what kind of data is relevant and we go there and we can collect the information so that it makes sense for you. The other thing is I won’t call it an investigation I would call analysis. So it’s a data analysis to understand if there is a spike and then understand whether it is due to factors outside our control or if it is factors of the band of discretion becoming wider.
How can the SCSU administration think this is just data analysis when professors have told them that students’ participation in specific classes have disappeared from their transcripts? How can President Potter and other members of his administration attend the monthly Meet and Confer meetings, then tell the Faculty Association that they’re looking into the transcript issue?
It’s dishonest for the administration to say that they’re looking into this issue, then find out that they haven’t talked with the professor who’s questioned the integrity of a specific student’s transcript?
This is another major red flag:
Under Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system policies, students who drop out after 80 percent of the semester is completed must get special permission from the administration and faculty. Legitimate reasons for withdrawal or dropping would be military service, or medical or financial issues, according to McKenna and Hammer.
The chemistry professors said the students at issue did not fit into that category. Instead, they had completed the work, taken final exams and scored poorly, earning Ds and Fs. But later they were allowed to withdraw, leaving a “W” on a transcript, or to drop the course entirely from their transcript, leaving no evidence that they had ever taken it, according to McKenna.
Let’s repeat that. “The chemistry professors said the students at issue” weren’t eligible for legitimate revisions to their transcripts. They weren’t eligible because students “had completed the work, taken final exams and scored poorly, earning Ds and Fs.”
First, what rationale can the administration offer that justifies entirely deleting grades from a student’s transcripts after he’s failed the class? Second, why did the administration consider changing a student’s transcript after he failed a class without the professor’s input?
This isn’t a game. Professors take note of attendance. They grade tests, term papers and final exams. That makes them the expert on the student. When they issue a final grade, that grade shouldn’t be changed without the student providing a compelling reason why it should be changed. Included with that reason should be documentation that says why they deserve special treatment. Failing a class isn’t justification for deleting grades.
The fact that President Potter hasn’t talked with Dr. Leenay since she first brought this forward is proof that he either isn’t interested in this grade inflation or because he’s afraid of admitting there’s a serious problem with the University’s transcript system.
This is a major jolt to SCSU’s academic integrity. Unfortunately, it isn’t the last shoe to drop in this matter. It’s merely the tip of a gigantic iceberg.
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