Faculty senate

by Kristin Gustafson

University faculty are taking a look, from their own perspectives, at allegations of academic fraud in the men’s basketball program.
The faculty’s senate, known as the Faculty Consultative Committee, appointed a special committee to provide faculty analysis and perspective on the issue.
At a July closed-door meeting with Tonya Moten Brown, the University president’s chief of staff, the faculty senate was briefed on the status of the investigations and the likely schedule of events. The senate discussed what role the faculty should play in response to the investigation, according to meeting minutes.
The faculty wants to get a handle on the issue without jumping to conclusions, Brown said.
A report on the academic misconduct allegations which surfaced last spring is expected late October, University officials said. Two law firms are investigating claims that a University tutor wrote research papers and take-home tests for more than 20 current and former men’s basketball players.
One of the three major tasks of the special faculty committee is to evaluate the relationship between special academic assistance programs for student-athletes and the athletics departments.
“Concern has been expressed that the administrative relationship of this program to the athletic departments may have enhanced the possibility of inappropriate conduct by students,” Fred Morrison, Law School professor and FCC chairman, wrote in an e-mail to several faculty committee members. “Are other administrative structures preferable? Should limits be imposed on contacts between coaches or other administrators and individual faculty members with regard to student performance?”
Morrison added that some answers might have to wait until the investigation’s report is released.
His other tasks for the committee include evaluating University policies and are not specifically focused on the athletic program.
The first task looks at academic policies and standards. The second reviews enforcement procedures for academic integrity.
Reports on the special faculty committee’s progress will not be made public until at least November, said subcommittee chairman Tom Clayton.
While the academic fraud report is due to the school by late next month, it is expected to be publicly released in early November.
Clayton said he is certain committee members’ sympathies are broad and their minds are open.
“If there are axes to be ground, they’ll have to be taken elsewhere,” Clayton said.

Kristin Gustafson covers University administration and welcomes comments at kgustafson@daily.umn.edu. She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3211.