Preventive measures taken by Southern University Chancellor Edward R. Jackson might be too little too late, say some on the Southern campus. They say that Southern has been compromised.
"For the present, I do think that the University's integrity has been tainted," said Marilyn Rutland, assistant professor of mass communications. "But if the university and the administration goes after these people, prosecute them and not sweep this under the rug, then it will be a positive step forward for the university. If they don't, then it will be a big problem."
After findings by internal auditors that revealed academic records and grade changes in the Registrar's Office, Jackson said the university had chosen a new interim registrar, Brenda Williams, reassigned former registrar Marvin Allen, assigned an internal auditor from the chancellor's Office to monitor the department, and instituted new internal controls to prevent further unauthorized entries.
More than 500 students could be called before a faculty panel that is to determine whether unauthorized or undocumented entries had been made to change grades or academic records. There could be legal repercussions, and students' degrees could be revoked.
"Undoubtedly, this is a tough hour and an hour of introspection for our institution," said Sudhir K. Trivedi, president of the Faculty Senate, which planned to meet to discuss the findings and the chancellor's leadership.
"With respect to calls for chancellor's resignation, it is the prerogative of the (SU System) President and the (SU System) Board (of Supervisors) to deal with the issue of the campus leadership," Trivedi said. "As the faculty, all we must do and we shall do at this juncture is to help the administration and the board in restoring the academic integrity in this institution."
Jessica Putman, a freshman business management major from Austin, Texas, said the scandal had not altered her thoughts about Southern. She said the image of the university had not been tainted and that high school seniors should still choose the school.
"One bad apple shouldn't ruin the bushel," she said.
Eugere Robinson, a recruiter, said that the scandal made the university look bad, but that recruitment or enrollment should not be affected.
In the Registrar's Office, it was business as usual for Helen Rutledge, a verification officer -- except for the telephone.
"The office has been receiving numerous calls for verification of degrees since the announcement," Rutledge said. "But as far as this office is concerned, we have a great staff and the academic integrity of the faculty and staff is intact."
Rutledge said the university and the public should not lose faith in the Registrar's Office.
"We will continue to do our day-to-day operations that assist our students and staff," she said. "We will get over this and we will get over this together."
Posted April 2, 2004
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