Southern Audit Finds 541 Implicated in Grade-Change Scheme

An investigation into the Southern University Registrar’s Officeby the school’s internal auditors has implicated at least 541students — past and present — in a grade-changing scheme.

At a March 31 news conference, ChancellorEdward R. Jackson said the scheme involved undergraduate andgraduate students dating to 1995 and could mean that degrees thatwere awarded were fake and could be revoked.

The chancellor said the auditors report showedapproximately 2,500 grade transactions.

Jackson also said that money might have beeninvolved in the scheme.

“Let me assure everyone, we will not tolerateany unethical or illegal activities at Southern University,”Jackson said. “If we find it, we will stop it, we will correct itand we will report it.”

The findings have been reported to the EastBaton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office, the SouthernUniversity System Board of Supervisors and legislativeauditors.

Jackson said the investigation was initiatedlast year when the university was alerted that a student who hadenrolled in one of Southern’s graduate programs presentedcredentials indicating that she was a graduate of the university.The department had no record of her having earned a degree.

The university was able to trace theundocumented entries of other students as well as identify theemployee codes that were used to alter academic records, Jacksonsaid.

The trail of unauthorized entries led to CleoCarroll, the former assistant registrar who was fired last Marchduring the initial stages of the investigation, Jackson added.

Registrar Marvin Allen was reassigned toanother department after Carroll’s dismissal. He was not availablefor comment.

There is no evidence that Allen was involvedin the investigation, but Jackson said other employees might havebeen.

Jackson said that each accused student wouldhave the opportunity to go before a panel of faculty members toplead his or her case.

The panel is to decide whether each studentwould be cleared of the charges or must retake the courses. Degreesearned under false pretenses may also be revoked during thehearings.

“We will try to be as fair and humane aspossible if students who are involved are willing to cooperate,”Jackson said. “But we have to remember that laws have been brokenand rules have been violated.”

An internal auditor from the chancellor’soffice has been assigned to monitor the Registrar’s Office.

“This problem is a disgrace to our beloveduniversity,” said Junior Class President Alvin Woods. “I have faiththat everything will be resolved without chaos.”

“Every institution has its problems and sodoes ours,” said Faculty Senate President Sudhir Travedi in astatement Wednesday. “However, they are ours to deal with. And, so,we will deal with these problems together and make it right.”

Gabrielle Maple, a student at SouthernUniversity, is editor-in-chief of The Southern Digest.