Last semester, at least two students applying for acceptance into the UB School of Management graduate program were denied because their GPAs did not meet the minimum for acceptance. Although their denial is not unusual, the policy the SOM used to calculate the students' GPAs was.
Both students had repeated a course to replace a poor grade. Under university policy, the higher grade of the two is used to determine the GPA; however, SOM mandated averaging the two grades when calculating the students' GPAs. After the students complained and Student Association President Christian Oliver took the matter to the administration, Provost Elizabeth Capaldi asked the SOM to comply with university policy.
"We are not certain that grade replacement is as good for professional schools, but . we need to be a team player," said Jerry Newman, interim dean of the SOM.
A student complaining about the policy approached Oliver who then brought the matter to the attention of Kerry Grant, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the graduate school.
Grant said Capaldi made the decision to request the SOM to comply with the university policy after reviewing data on the number of students who could be adversely affected by the current SOM policy.
"The school complied immediately and without complaint, beyond explanations of the application of their policy and why they felt they were justified in their use," stated Grant. ". In general [their policy] made no difference, but in a very few examples, the difference between the way the grades were calculated did result in a negative outcome for one aspect of the considerations used to determine admission to the major."
Grant identified several reasons for the administration's interest in addressing the policy disparity.
"Consistency with campus academic policy is important. Moreover, in this case the SA passed a resolution requesting that this policy be consistently followed," stated Grant. "The Faculty Senate Grading Committee also requested that the administration seek compliance."
Oliver said the management school's repeat policy was inconsistent and confusing for students looking at the course manual, who would see one policy initially and later a different policy in the SOM.
"Students have the right to expect that the policies as described in the University Catalog will be adhered to consistently across the campus," stated Grant.
"What if the first time you took [a class], you had some hard classes that you were concentrating on and that one just didn't come first or you got sick that semester?" asked Allison Trusso, a freshmen psychology major. "Decid(ing) to take it over that doesn't mean that you academically don't understand [the class] so you should have the higher grade recorded."
According to John Della Contrada, director of communications for the SOM, the school changed the policy in the best interest of the students and in an effort to be good university citizens.
"If a student takes a class and gets a F and then repeats the class and gets a B then the F shouldn't even be counted," said Lafonya Jackson, an SOM senior.
Newman said current SOM students will not be notified of the new policy because "there's no sense confusing folks."
According to Della Contrada, the SOM will inform current UB students applying to the SOM of the change in policy during the advising process, but added that most students assumed that the SOM policy and the university policy were the same.