Senate to form record oversight committee
Published: Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Updated: Monday, October 12, 2009 01:10
The West Virginia University Faculty Senate unanimously passed a motion that formed a group assisting in the development and implementation of new records-keeping processes at WVU.
Michael Perone, faculty senator and co-chair of Mountaineers for Integrity and Responsibility, read the motion to the Senate days after Heather Bresch, Gov. Joe Manchin's daughter, sent a letter to the Board of Governors questioning a report from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
The investigation by AACRAO began in the wake of a scandal in which Bresch was wrongly awarded an executive master's in business administration degree. After a panel found that Bresch did not earn the degree, her degree was revoked, and several administrators, including former President Michael S. Garrison, either resigned or were reassigned to other positions.
Bresch has questioned the ACCRAO report, which found that 288 degrees were given despite credit-hour deficiencies. Interim President C. Peter Magrath unequivocally accepted the report and said at the report reading on Feb. 2 that those 288 degrees, 27 of which were also eMBAs, would not be rescinded.
Magrath and Interim Provost E. Jane Martin addressed Bresch's situation, calling it a "student query," at Monday's meeting. They said the Office of the Provost is handling the situation, and the happenings will remain confidential, just like any other inquiry that arises.
Perone thinks AACRAO's report is a blue print for what the University needs to do to improve upon its records-keeping system. His motion supplements the report, laying out the mechanisms for the faculty to advise the registrar during implementation of AACRAO's recommendations.
"The people who are in the trenches . can help a lot," Perone said.
The committee formed out of the motion will have the following responsibilities:
Review the AACRAO report and WVU's response and decide what areas are suitable for the Senate's input and advising;
Meet with the new University Registrar and his or her team once processes are "analyzed in the conversion to an all centralized, Banner supported records management approach;"
Find other records-keeping processes that are "idiosyncratic within colleges" and fix "the gap between these processes and the systems solutions to these processes;"
Make sure the new registrar understands WVU-specific academic processes and match these processes with new approaches to management;
Work with the registrar's team in "the adoption of best practices technology for academic records management;"
Work with the University Faculty Senate and registrar as academic retention rules are put in place as well as identifying issues related to retention.
Perone believes the faculty will be able to look at the different processes on the faculty, departmental and college levels when trying to figure out how to streamline records at WVU.
"I think we are all on the same page. We all want to help," Perone said after the meeting.
But not all of the faculty senators are on the same page as Perone.
Dallas Branch, a faculty senator, addressed the Senate, asking them why they aren't questioning the findings of AACRAO's report with the same vigor they did this time last year in the midst of the Bresch scandal.
"If I were looking at how I was treated versus the other 288, I might see a very big difference, too," Branch said, adding he believes Bresch reserves the right to ask for an explanation.
"I wasn't trying to admonish the faculty (when I questioned them). I was simply trying to point out we spent a lot of time and a lot of energy scrutinizing that issue . but I don't see the same zest and appeal and the same insistence that we look at the other (288 degrees) in the same light," he said.
When asked if he would bring forth a motion at the next Senate meeting questioning the other 288 degrees, Branch said he believed the faculty wouldn't tolerate such a motion.
Virginia Kleist, Faculty Senate chairwoman, said the University has made "great strides in the last year" since the scandal.
She said she believes the AACRAO report is a step in the right direction to redesign the records system and that she has faith in Magrath, Martin and BOG Chairwoman Carolyn Long to "handle the matter of the letter of Ms. Bresch" with integrity.
But Branch doesn't believe this is the end of the Bresch situation.
"I don't know if the Heather Bresch story has been written yet," he said after the meeting. "I believe it's just starting."