Registrar finds grade changing

A student employee in the Registrar’s Office was fired earlier this semester for changing grades, University officials confirmed last week. The University is still investigating the case and it is unclear if Student Judicial Services has acted on it.

University Registrar Dennis Geyer said the incident “appears to have affected five or less students” and said the office was tipped off by phone calls from a student and a faculty member.

Geyer said the student employee, who he said faces Student Judicial Services charges, did not have access to the system. An earlier audit indicates that the employees who have access to the computers had left them without logging off in the past.

Senior Assistant Dean Mike Walker, who heads SJS, said in an e-mail that he could not comment on the case because “answering any questions would, I feel, put the student’s confidentiality rights in jeopardy.”

Geyer said after an audit of the system, the Registrar’s Office is confident that no other grades were changed because the office can tie every change to the time and place an employee accessed the system. He said the office determined the scope of the incident within 24 hours of the phone call.

About five employees and no students have access to change grades, Geyer said.

Geyer said he is still working to encourage employees to log off but is
not planning any major changes to software or procedures. He added that students should feel confident with the current security.

Geyer said the office conducts random audits, briefs employees on security procedures and conducts reviews of office procedures.

Since he came to GW last June, Geyer said only three of about 25,000 grades were incorrectly registered and they were all corrected.

“We’re looking at office procedure and conducting a review of all policies and procedures to ensure grade security,” he said. “We are the gatekeepers, and if I have one (grade compromised), that’s inappropriate.”

He said the office has 25 full-time staff member in addition to a handful of student employees.

A grade-changing incident at the University of Arkansas-Fayettville in September led the school’s registrar’s office to ban student employees from working in the office, spokesman Jay Nickel said.

At least one of six students arrested in the grade-changing incident worked in the office and was found guilty for 11 counts of using a “false transcript, diploma or grade report,” a misdemeanor, said Jacob Flournoy, the school’s Internal Audit director.

Flournoy said his office made 16 recommendations to the registrar’s office to change what he called a “very congenial” atmosphere that included password and ID sharing.

Associate Registrar Beth Amundson said this is the first incident of inappropriate grade changing at GW.

“Fortunately, we have never had to experience this (situation) before,” she said.

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