Devinder Malholtra was quoted in this MPR article as saying 2 things that deserve extensive scrutiny. Here’s the first thing that deserves greater scrutiny:

In reviewing a sample of 237 student transcripts changed between July 2011 and June 2012, the university found that administrators responsible for making the changes consulted faculty in 69 percent of the cases. In others, it was not clear whether the faculty member was not notified or did not respond to a request for comment.

“It was clear to us that sometimes that protocol wasn’t being followed,” St. Cloud State Provost Devinder Molhotra said. “So we want to be sure that people were reminded…We had a conversation and put in place a very specific protocol.”

That isn’t what professors are talking about. Malholtra knows that it isn’t. This is what professors are worried about:

Last spring, Tamara Leenay, a chemistry professor at St. Cloud State University, was reviewing grades when she came across the transcript of a student who failed an organic chemistry class she taught a couple of years earlier.

I noticed the course was not even on his transcript,” Leenay said. “There was no ‘F.’ There was no course number…It was completely gone. And I have [a] record that he was in my class and that I gave him a grade…and I was never notified of any of these changes.”

Let’s be clear about this. There is a formal procedure that students follow when they drop a class late. That procedure, for the most part, has been in place for a generation. That isn’t what happened with Dr. Leenay.

For instance, when a student drops a class because they’ve been called into active military duty, the student will provide documentation showing that they’re being called into active military duty. The student is then dropped from the class with a notation in the student’s transcript. A copy of the student’s military orders is kept in the student’s paper file. On the electronic record, the student’s last date of attendance is frequently included.

In that instance, there’s a record of the student’s participation in the class with the special notation. That isn’t what Dr. Leenay is talking about.

According to Dr. Leenay, a student participated in an organic chemistry class that she taught. That student got a failing grade, which went into the student’s transcript. She later looked at the student’s transcript and found that “the course was not even on his transcript. “There was no ‘F.’ There was no course number…It was completely gone. And I have [a] record that he was in my class and that I gave him a grade…and I was never notified of any of these changes.”

Unlike the special situation dropping of a class, this student didn’t drop the class. The student’s participation in the class that he/she failed just disappeared into thin air. There isn’t a special notation on the student’s transcript because there isn’t a record of the student’s participation in the class.

Dr. Malholtra’s dishonest quote that this was a bureacratic mix-up is disgraceful. Completely deleting a student’s participation in a class is wrong. It isn’t a bureaucratic mix-up. Which brings us to the other statement that Malholtra made:

“Integrity of transcripts and the record is very, very important and so is the involvement of the faculty in that process,” Molhotra said. “There’s no question about that in my mind. And it’s our attempt to make sure that going forward we do our due diligence and we make sure that the faculty input is not only taken but recorded.”

What proof do employers have that the administration takes this seriously? At one of this year’s Meet & Confer meetings, the faculty asked for the status of “the investigation” into the transcripts. The person speaking for the administration said that they didn’t “think of this as an investigation”, then saying they thought of it “as about data analysis.”

When document of a student’s participation disappears outright, the only accurate way to describe that is that the administration is changing a student’s grades without the professor’s input.

If this happened at other universities, this wouldn’t be tolerated. Proverbially speaking, heads would roll. Administrators would be terminated, up to and including the president and the provost. This type of corruption can’t be tolerated.

When a university’s record-keeping can’t be trusted, academic integrity doesn’t exist.

One Response to “Malholtra’s misdirection detected”

  • Crimson Trace says:

    It is clear the people responsible including the president and provost should be fired. Period.

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