Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Grade-Changing Scandal Rocks Southern University: Former Assistant Registrar's Illegal Actions Date Back to 1995

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Grade-Changing Scandal Rocks Southern University: Former Assistant Registrar's Illegal Actions Date Back to 1995

Article excerpt

BATON ROUGE, LA.

A massive grade-changing scandal is rocking Southern University's campus, and may wind up in the revocation of some undergraduate and graduate degrees.

In all, 541 students and former students have been implicated in an illegal grade-changing scandal masterminded by a former assistant registrar.

Southern University Chancellor Edward Jackson said the former assistant registrar, who was fired last year, apparently charged students up to hundreds of dollars to illegally change each grade. The university is still trying to determine if the prime suspect had some help.

"We've heard talk about him having runners to solicit business," Jackson said.

Jackson declined to name the grade-changing assistant registrar, but sources close to the investigation have identified him as Cleo Carroll. Southern University records show that Carroll held that position for years until he was terminated in 2003.

"Everybody knows who he is--one of the local television stations even ran his picture on the news," Jackson said.

The Registrar's Office had internal controls to prevent such abuse, according to Jackson, but they weren't followed because other employees trusted the assistant registrar.

"You should never have anyone in position that powerful," Jackson said.

The former registrar in charge of overseeing Carroll has been reassigned, Jackson said, and a national search is under way to fill the position. In the meantime, Jackson said he has permanently assigned an auditor from his office to oversee the registrar's operations.

The scandal first came to light in March of 2003, when a student who had enrolled in a Southern graduate program presented credentials showing that she had earned a bachelor's degree from that department. The department had no record that the woman had ever received such a degree, and concerned faculty members alerted the university's auditors, Jackson said.

By tracing the code that Carroll used to change grades in the university computer system, the auditors discovered 541 students who benefited from unauthorized grade changes dating back to 1995, Jackson said.

In all, the university auditors have identified about 2,500 unauthorized transactions that Carroll made during that period, Jackson said. …

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