NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University and the Tennessee Board of Regents met today with the Senate Higher Education Subcommittee in a public hearing to address allegations of wrongful and inappropriate grade changes by University administrators.
During the two-hour hearing called by Subcommittee Chairman Senator Jim Summerville (R-Dickson), TSU academic and administrative officials, internal audit staff, and TBR officials provided testimony after local and national media publicized one TSU faculty member’s allegations of grade changes by University administrators without faculty consent. Dr. Jane Davis, an English professor at the University who made the allegations, was also present at the hearing.
“Tennessee State University has welcomed today’s opportunity to set the record straight both factually and clearly, and to address the unfounded and inappropriate allegations raised by a faculty member about how grades were assigned to students,” said Dr. Portia Shields, TSU President. “We applaud Senator Summerville and members of the subcommittee for their willingness to listen to the facts as presented by the University’s administration, the Tennessee Board of Regents and representatives of Tennessee State University.
“It was made clear today from testimony during the hearing and through the internal audit report that there was no indication that University administrators ordered, coerced or directly changed the grades of students, but that faculty simply did what was right for the students involved. It is a shame, however, that so much energy has been spent addressing these unsupported allegations; energy that could have been better spent on students as we prepare for the beginning of a new academic year.”
The allegations of inappropriate grade changing first surfaced on June 27, 2012 when Davis sent an e-mail to the Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, and copied to the Governor of the State of Tennessee, complaining that the Associate Vice Provost changed over 100 grades of “Incompletes” to a “C” in two pilot math classes. The classes, Math 1110 and 1013, were part of a pilot program instituted by the University due to the elimination of remedial courses at four-year institutions by the Tennessee Board of Regents. The University designed the courses allowing students who needed learning support in mathematics, along with more time or instruction, to receive it in a number of ways including a four-day weekly schedule instead of a regular three-day schedule, a variety of computer-assisted instructional supports, the videotaping of classes, and University tutoring.
Because of a mistake by the University, students were inappropriately assigned an “incomplete” if they earned a passing grade in the course but didn’t complete all of the learning-support requirements. According to TBR guidelines, students should not be required participate in learning support work if they have already demonstrated the ability to pass the credit-bearing class.
Since the mistake was due to actions by the University and not the fault of the students, the institution corrected the mistake. According to the internal audit report, “the Implementation Team realized the syllabi were incorrect and that they violated TBR Guideline A-100. The team determined that those students who had received incompletes should have been awarded the actual grade earned in the course.”
The audit continues to report that “based on the test work performed, all of the ‘Incompletes’ in question were not changed to “C” grades. Based on comparison of the actual grades awarded by the faculty to the grades recorded in the students’ transcripts in Banner, there was no indication that any ‘fraudulent grades’ were entered for the students.”
The report also made several recommendations that are being addressed by the University for implementation including emphasizing the necessity of clear, more open and documented communications between all applicable faculty, staff and administrators, especially in situations which may not be specifically addressed in either University or TBR policies, procedures or guidelines.
The report also indicates that before the accusations were brought to the attention of the Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, Davis, who does not teach math at the University and who is also the Faculty Senate Chair, never met with the full faculty senate or faculty members to address the subject, made no inquiry on campus about the issue, nor was there a resolution filed from the Faculty Senate. According to the internal audit, she also refused to meet with those conducting the audit to provide any documentation or proof of her allegations to campus officials.
Campus officials changed the course requirements as soon as the problem was identified to avoid a similar issue in the future.
“The University commends the Subcommittee on Higher Education for the opportunity to address the allegations,” continued Dr. Shields. “Tennessee State University remains resolute in our commitment to academic integrity and excellence, and to continue to provide opportunities to our students and the world.”
Department of Media Relations
Rick DelaHaya: 615.963.5312
Tennessee State University
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About Tennessee State University
With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university and is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as the Number One University in the state by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912 Tennessee State University celebrates 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.
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Motto: Think, Work, Serve Established: June 19, 1912 Type: Public, HBCU Endowment: $41.7 million Chancellor: John Morgan President: Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover Faculty: 431 Enrollment: 8775 Location: Nashville, Tennessee, United States Campus: Urban, 500 acres (2 km²) Former names: Tennessee A&I State Normal School for Negroes (1912); Tennessee A&I State Normal College (1925); Tennessee A&I State University (1951); Tennessee State University (1968) Colors: Reflex Blue and White Nickname: Tigers Athletics: National Collegiate Athletic Association Affiliations: Ohio Valley Conference Web site: www.tnstate.edu Phone: 615-963-5000
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