Everette Freeman is president of Albany State University.
ALBANY Albany State University President Everette Freeman says that the university is taking immediate and substantial steps following a probe by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents that found that the university had improperly admitted students who failed to meet academic entry requirements.
Speaking to students, faculty and staff at a town hall meeting at noon Friday on campus, Freeman said that the investigation brought by the regents came after a letter was sent by the Albany chapter of the American Association of University Professors alleging a wide range of regents policy abuses at the school, including financial mismanagement, fraud and even improper use of human test subjects for research purposes.
Following the investigation, Freeman said that only one of the claims was ultimately substantiated by the BOR’s investigative team — that the university had improperly admitted students who failed to meet its academic admission requirements which use benchmarks on standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT and grade point average.
“There were students who were admitted who did not meet the university’s admission requirements,” Freeman said. “I can tell you that immediately after learning of this, we put corrective actions in place that we believe should prevent it from happening again.”
According to the report from the regents, which was obtained by The Albany Herald, while some of the claims brought by the AAUP were either partially or fully substantiated, the vast majority of the claims in the 10-page AAUP letter were found to be unfounded.
“...the AAUP letter contains a variety of broad characterizations that include general allegations, but lack enough specificity to be construed as matters which can be reviewed and assessed in terms of their factual accuracy,” the report states. “Ultimately, our review indicated these broad characterizations and accusations could not be substantiated.”
In addition to the admission findings, the report also finds that the university should’ve better safe-guarded student records — an action Freeman says has already been taken — and that students with disabilities had not been given proper accommodations while on campus — an issue Freeman also said has been corrected.
The Board of Regents permits university presidents to allow up to 20 percent of an incoming fall freshman class to enter even if they don’t meet all of the admission requirements.
Freeman said that those are typically students who had a high grade-point-average in high school but, for whatever reason, didn’t do well on either the SAT or ACT.
“In those instances, what we should’ve done, and what I’m recommending, is to have referred any of those students who didn’t qualify as a candidate for a four-year degree at Albany State to one of the area’s access institutions like Waycross or Darton or Bainbridge where they can get their two-year degree and then come to Albany State University and get their baccalaureate degree,” Freeman said.
The students who were allowed in without meeting the requirements, 351 in the fall of 2011 alone, will receive additional educational help through remediation or access to study help, Freeman said.
Despite the fact the students who were admitted failed to meet the admission requirements, Freeman said that they were only slightly underperforming compared to the students who were properly admitted.
Freeman also pointed to two leadership changes that he told the audience were voluntary.
The first involves Abiodun Ojemakinde, the current vice president of academic affairs. Freeman said he has asked and received permission to be relinquished of his duties and will focus full-time on teaching.
Freeman also said that the university’s chief information officer, Virginia L. Stewart, submitted her resignation in early January. She is currently slated to serve as special projects manager in the short term, Freeman said.
AAUP Chapter President Donald Kagay, who wrote the letter that started the investigation, did not return attempts by the Herald seeking comment.