Southern Audit Finds 541 Implicated in Grade-Change Scheme PDF Print E-mail
By Gabrielle Maple - Black College Wire   

An investigation into the Southern University Registrar's Office by the school's internal auditors has implicated at least 541 students -- past and present -- in a grade-changing scheme.

At a March 31 news conference, Chancellor Edward R. Jackson said the scheme involved undergraduate and graduate students dating to 1995 and could mean that degrees that were awarded were fake and could be revoked.

The chancellor said the auditors report showed approximately 2,500 grade transactions.


Corrective Measures Could Be Too Little, Too Late

Jackson also said that money might have been involved in the scheme.

"Let me assure everyone, we will not tolerate any unethical or illegal activities at Southern University," Jackson said. "If we find it, we will stop it, we will correct it and we will report it."

The findings have been reported to the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office, the Southern University System Board of Supervisors and legislative auditors.

Jackson said the investigation was initiated last year when the university was alerted that a student who had enrolled in one of Southern's graduate programs presented credentials indicating that she was a graduate of the university. The department had no record of her having earned a degree.

The university was able to trace the undocumented entries of other students as well as identify the employee codes that were used to alter academic records, Jackson said.

The trail of unauthorized entries led to Cleo Carroll, the former assistant registrar who was fired last March during the initial stages of the investigation, Jackson added.

Registrar Marvin Allen was reassigned to another department after Carroll's dismissal. He was not available for comment.

There is no evidence that Allen was involved in the investigation, but Jackson said other employees might have been.

Jackson said that each accused student would have the opportunity to go before a panel of faculty members to plead his or her case.

The panel is to decide whether each student would be cleared of the charges or must retake the courses. Degrees earned under false pretenses may also be revoked during the hearings.

"We will try to be as fair and humane as possible if students who are involved are willing to cooperate," Jackson said. "But we have to remember that laws have been broken and rules have been violated."

An internal auditor from the chancellor's office has been assigned to monitor the Registrar's Office.

"This problem is a disgrace to our beloved university," said Junior Class President Alvin Woods. "I have faith that everything will be resolved without chaos."

"Every institution has its problems and so does ours," said Faculty Senate President Sudhir Travedi in a statement Wednesday. "However, they are ours to deal with. And, so, we will deal with these problems together and make it right."

Gabrielle Maple, a student at Southern University, is editor-in-chief of The Southern Digest.

Posted April 2, 2004

Posted Apr. 02, 2004
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