Magrath: Final record-keeping report closes door on past problems; energies will be spent implementing recommendations
Its time to put our energies to work implementing the recommendations before us,interim West Virginia University President C. Peter Magrath said Monday (March 30) following acceptance of the second phase of a records-management review by a nationally recognized independent consulting group.
The firm, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), was retained by WVU last fall to look at record-keeping practices University-wide, including an assessment of program-specific record-keeping for the College of Business and Economics .
In February, Wayne Sigler, AACRAO senior consultant, delivered a comprehensive report with 29 recommendations intended to standardize and strengthen degree-granting practices and policies University-wide. All were adopted, Magrath noted, and significant progress on many has been made, including a search for a WVU registrar.
That candidate list has been narrowed to four very qualified professionals who will next month be on campus for interviews,he said.The goal of the committee is to have someone named by July, so a permanent registrar is solidly in place by the fall semester.
Mondays report, delivered by Bob Bontrager, director of AACRAO Consulting, included an additional recommendation that the Provosts Office be charged with reviewing theTentative Graduation Listfor May 2009 graduates to resolve any apparent discrepancies.
WVU has accepted that recommendation, Magrath said, and, in fact, the provosts staff has made it a top priority to work closely with colleges and schools to resolve any apparent discrepancies ahead of graduation day in Mayand will continue the process for summer and fall terms.
In addition to ensuring that transfer credit, second degree and dual credit situations are accounted for on the official University transcript, this process should ensure that no student graduates with insufficient hours.
The graduation certification process is extensive, detailed and has already begun,Magrath added.
Progress is also being made on the development of a new centralized catalog; the installation of DegreeWorks, a Web-based tool/degree audit system to be used by all schools and colleges; implementation of a one-year retention policy for all undistributed class tests and student papers as well as class rosters; and many other steps designed to assure integrity in academic records management processes and practices, Magrath noted.
In his report, Bontrager explained that the work during phase two dealt with a more detailed review of the undergraduate and EMBA records found to have discrepancies during the time period 1997-2007 (fewer credit hours than the number required for the degree to be conferred).
In February, that number stood at 261 at the undergraduate level and 27 in the EMBA program.
In their latest review, the consultants initially found 304 studentsor 0.8 percent of the 36,661 undergraduate degrees awarded during that periodwith fewer than 128 credit hours. However, following a thorough review which included transcripts, forms, folders, checklists and related materials, the number of cases lacking documentation now stands at 104.
During the same 10-year span of EMBA records, 79 of the 652 degrees awarded were identified as missing the total of 48 units required, Bontragers group discovered. In the end, however, the consultants determined 14 did not reflect the required units.
In all 118 cases, the degrees were certified at the time of graduation and the degrees were conferred to the students. All those degrees will stand, Magrath confirmed, noting that no student will or has been contacted regarding the review of records.
As the consultants observed, the problems WVU experienced were the result of not following best industry practices,he said.Now that we have taken corrective actions, the University should never again experience problems with the conferral of degrees.
WVU has more than donedue diligencein its efforts to shore up student academic records management practices, Magrath added, and it was bothprudent and wiseto have these processes examined and validated externally.
What happened before I came here did not shake me,he said.I knew what the issues were. My job was to come here and get to the bottom of whatever needed to be fixed. Whatever needs to come out will come out, and well handle it professionally. And thats what we did.
Yes, we had a problem herebut we dealt with it and we fixed it. We met adversity head on with openness, transparency, integrity and courage. We did the right thing. Now, as a community, I am confident that we can move on and continue the fine work of this University.
Also on hand for the presentation were Carolyn Long, chair of the WVU Board of Governors, and interim WVU Provost E. Jane Martin.
For more on the report and the detailed response, go to http://www.wvu.edu/~acadaff/ .