Thursday, May 16, 2013

An Academic Scandal Handled Correctly

While it is far too easy to find poorly handled academic scandals these days, it is actually a pleasure to see a major problem handled correctly. This report of a botched final exam at NYU created a big problem and was totally unfair to the students. The professor, Rick Pildes, however, handled the problem the best that he could, and serves a model of how to handle such a scandal. The report deserves to be read if not studied, but the solutions can be summarized:
  1. He acted immediately, within half an hour of the discovery of the mistake.

  2. He apologized and expressed his sympathy to the victims.

  3. He explained, as best as he could reconstruct, exactly how the problem occurred. He did not stonewall or dissemble.

  4. Even though he was not entirely at fault he took the blame and full responsibility for what happened.

  5. He assured the victims of a prompt solution and resolution even though he had to consult authorities and even if he had not worked it out yet.

  6. He apologized again to the victims.

  7. He worked out a reasonable solution and restitution that could be resolved within the week.

  8. He gave the victims reasonable options and a chance to make informed choices.

  9. He did extra work to make things right and the victims knew it.

Imagine how things might have turned out if other university scandals were handled this way.