SOM Stands By Grade Replacement Policy Despite Student Appeals



Although some have branded it unfair, UB's School of Management is upholding its admissions policy for students with repeated courses on their transcripts.

Two students, including Laszlo Kerekgyarto, a NYSSA delegate from UB, who were denied admission to the school on the basis of a recalculated GPA contested the school's policy, claiming it was unfair to alter a university-wide guideline. The appeal was referred to Jerry Newman, interim dean of the management school, who Friday announced that he would not waive the decision of the admission's office.

The university allows students who perform below expectation in a class to repeat the course once and keep the highest grade of the two for GPA calculation. While both courses appear on the student's transcript, only the latter counts towards the grade-point average.

The School of Management, however, maintains a policy of averaging repeated courses together and deriving a composite grade to factor into the GPA instead, creating what the school considers a better judgment of the student's abilities.

Kerekgyarto and others like him have found their GPAs altered so significantly by the SOM's calculations that admission into the school was denied.

"We tell every student who comes in exactly - exactly - what we do," said Diane Dittmar, assistant dean of academic programs in the management school. Each student who takes advantage of the school's advising services is apprised of the minimum criteria for entry into the school as well as how grades are handled by the admissions department.

"It's not done haphazardly - it's based upon our experiences," said Dittmar.

Both Dittmar and John Della Contrada, director of communications in the School of Managment, said the method of averaging the courses taken more than once allows the school to assess the student's chances of success within the SOM.

The Student Association, meanwhile, has taken up the issue on behalf of affected students. SA President Christian Oliver was approached by Kerekgyarto and has taken action to bring the case to the attention of the administration.

"We'll be doing this on behalf of all students," said Oliver. "That's exactly what we're here for."

Oliver's first step was to approach Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Graduate School Kerry Grant.

Grant sympathizes with the plight of students in Kerekgyarto's position, and said he will continue to work for their cause. Grant said he will take the issue to the Faculty Senate, the administrative body typically responsible for composing university-wide policy regarding curricula and academic standards.

"I think the university-wide policy should always take precedence," said Oliver.

That question has raised others regarding the line between university grounds and departmental grounds.

"How far does the discretion of a department reach?" asked Grant.

The question remains whether the management school's decision to modify university requirements causes more harm than help to what Grant called the "need for coherent undergraduate program." Many of the differences between department rules and university policy come from departmental policies that were never updated as administrative rules changed, while others stem from disagreements over what students should be required to take prior to acceptance in the school, said Grant.

Grant also pointed out that students who change majors partway through their college careers - a group which makes up a significant percentage of the student population - could potentially be hindered by departments that maintain stricter or different admissions requirements. Students at UB should be able to "reasonably" change majors, said Grant, as long as the student is still making satisfactory progress towards timely graduation.

Oliver said he will continue to work with Grant to bring the issue to the Faculty Senate's attention, where it can be decided if the issue warrants further review and new regulations.

Kerekgyarto and others affected by the policy will not be admitted to the management school this semester, but may reapply in the spring with a higher GPA.