Committee Still Working, Richardson Says

Comments from Auburn University president Dr. Ed Richardson are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn University interim president Dr. Ed Richardson issued a statement on Friday from his office at Samford Hall noting that it will be three to four weeks before an on-campus committee completes its findings on a review of directed studies classes on campus.

A newspaper report earlier this month implied that AU athletes and other students were taking advantage of the independent studies classes through the university's sociology department to boost grade point averages and that one professor, Thomas Petee, was teaching too many directed studies classes.

"I have communicated with both the NCAA and SACS and assured them we would conduct a very thorough investigation," Richardson said. "I told them we will report to them any violations or situations we have found. We have no reason to believe there will be such at this point."

Richardson had previously stated that he hoped to have the committee's report done in July, but he noted he now believes that won't be possible.

"The investigation being conducted by the provost's office is ongoing, and as promised, will be made public on completion," he said. "One of the aspects of the investigation is to interview students and former students, and scheduling these interviews has been a challenge, but we will continue to pursue the interviews to insure that the report is accurate and complete."

Richardson said his primary goal is to uphold the academic reputation of the university, which he said was a strong due to the work of many alumni, faculty and students for many years. "I want to be clear," he said. "In the event that any academic misconduct is confirmed, we will take appropriate action."

Richardson's statement opened with the following: "We are all aware fo the issues discussed in thee New York times last week. I have reviewed the facts that we have in hand and consulted with the provost, the leadership of the Faculty Senate and members of the board of trustees. They are are, to a person, in strong support of immediate action.

"As a result, I am instructing provost John Heilman to work with the faculty and the academic affairs committee of our board (of trustees) to develop a set of policies no later than our trustee meeting on August 4 that will:

"*Limit the number of directed studies courses that any single instructor can offer. Although only two percent of undergraduate student enrollments over the past three years were directed studies, we will ensure these courses are used properly.

"*Ensure that every course offered at Auburn University is taught with the academic rigor our students deserve and all have the right to expect.

"*Ensure that proper university administrative oversight is in place throughout the university."

Richardson has directed other university officials not to comment on the matter until the committee releases its findings.

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