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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year


Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 22 - February 26, 1998

During the first week of classes this semester, an administrative action was brought to my attention that is indicative of numerous similar matters that may concern the faculty. The specific event that caught my attention relates to John Doe (fictitious name), a sophomore-level student majoring in biology.
Mr. Doe, a student-athlete hoping to transfer to the College of Engineering, was in my Introduction to Engineering class, EF 1015, this past fall semester. He failed it. Bob Pusey, in performing his duties as assistant director of the Division of Engineering Fundamentals, asked me about Mr. Doe because he was requesting to take the course a second time this spring semester. He also asked me if I knew anything about Mr. Doe being dropped from my fall semester EF 1015 class on Thursday, Dec. 18, 1997. My immediate reaction was one of surprise since Mr. Doe had taken his final examination with his classmates in the usual manner on Saturday, Dec. 13, 1997 and I had submitted my final grades to the EF secretaries on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 1997. I asked a secretary in the Division of Engineering Fundamentals to determine the name of the individual who had dropped the course, thus eliminating the failing grade from Mr. Doe's academic record. She found that the drop was conducted in the office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
A number of similar administrative actions have been brought to my attention during the past two years, actions that were discovered purely by chance. Thus, I wrote a lengthy letter to Paul Torgersen describing my concern that administrators are failing to follow established university procedures and requested that he investigate this perceived problem. He promptly responded, indicating that he would forward my concerns to the provost.
I request that any faculty member (or administrator) who is aware of administrators dropping classes after the final grades are posted (other than through the Freshman Rule procedure), dropping students from classes after the drop deadline, or performing other unusual actions notify the provost of your knowledge. Also of concern is the fact that these actions are taken without even the professional courtesy of allowing the faculty member involved to state his viewpoint. Circumstances requiring unusual administrative actions require a complete investigation--it seems only reasonable that the faculty member be involved in the investigation and the decision.
Barry Crittenden, associate professor
Division of Engineering Fundamentals