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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Independent studies set for overhaul after scandal

    An administrative task force will soon nail down any remaining academic integrity issues shadowing the UA’s independent studies classes since last semester’s charges of athlete favoritism, UA officials said.

    The investigation will focus on each department’s methods for approving, administering and supervising customized coursework, with aims to create universitywide standards and procedures for those classes, said Vice Provost Jerry Hogle, who is heading the investigation.

    “”We need to take a look at this, not just for the sake of athletes but for the sake of all students,”” Hogle said.

    The panel will be composed of around 10 professors, department chairs and administrators who will present findings and recommendations to the Faculty Senate by the end of this fall, Provost George Davis said.

    “”This doesn’t appear to be a hard job,”” Davis said.

    The campuswide inconsistency of record keeping among independent studies and “”a certain looseness”” in course guidelines breeds legitimacy issues that must be targeted, Hogle said.

    “”I worked really hard and was satisfied… But let’s face it, we all love breaks.””

    – Bettsy Garcia,
    fine arts grad. student

    “”We are going to try to firm this up in ways we haven’t worked out yet,”” Hogle said.

    Last semester the UA received complaints that Alexander Nava, a classics professor, was giving preferential treatment to student athletes in his independent studies courses.

    Davis initiated an internal investigation of independent studies courses after the UA and the NCAA cleared Nava of any wrongdoing, in April.

    Davis released a memo in July stating that the exoneration was “”not a cause for celebration or relief,”” and that he and former President Peter Likins were “”concerned about the practices which created the impression of preferential treatment.””

    President Robert Shelton wrote in an e-mail that any concerns surrounding the UA’s independent studies program have caused “”no substantial damage.””

    “”The overwhelming majority of independent studies offerings are of high quality and facilitate students gaining specialized knowledge and experience beyond the standard courses,”” Shelton wrote.

    The new semester is a perfect time to reassess the methods for supervising those courses, Shelton wrote.

    “”The task force will help us all by highlighting the key features of a solid IS program,”” Shelton wrote. “”I believe the campus community continues to value highly the independent IS offerings.””

    Students familiar with independent studies echoed Shelton’s confidence that independent studies are a flexible asset to the university’s curriculum, but also recognized the potential for abuse.

    “”I worked really hard and was satisfied with the result – my professor wasn’t easy to please,”” said Bettsy Garcia, a fine arts graduate student. “”But let’s face it, we all love breaks.””

    Naomi Botha, a biochemistry senior, is using her independent study course to study RNA degradation and said that she’s already met with her professor four times this semester.

    “”You have to do your part,”” Botha said. “”It’s not free and easy marks.””

    Still, Botha said that she had a friend who “”shamelessly”” bragged of getting an “”A”” for doing very little.

    “”It’s painful, ’cause many of us have to work,”” Botha said.

    “”It’s their loss if they don’t gain anything,”” Garcia said.

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