June 20, 2012
Message from President Mitchel Wallerstein to the Baruch College Community re Investigation of Three Executive Master’s Degree Programs in the Zicklin School of Business
To the Baruch College Community:
You may have seen the recent reports in the media regarding irregularities in three of the Executive Master’s degree programs in the Zicklin School of Business. Because I value your support and your commitment to Baruch College, I want you to be armed with the appropriate and accurate information on this matter. My primary concern has been and remains the academic quality and integrity of a Baruch College education.
When irregularities concerning unauthorized grade changes in the Executive MBA, Executive MS in Finance and Executive MS in Financial Statement Analysis programs first were uncovered in mid-2011, we acted quickly to address them. In July 2011, the potentially fraudulent actions of the administrator of the three programs were brought to the attention of the College’s senior leadership. That individual was immediately removed from his position and placed on administrative leave. The City University of New York subsequently referred the matter to the appropriate law enforcement authorities, and we have been informed that the case is now under active investigation. (Baruch College itself, however, is not now and was never under investigation.) As a next step, Baruch’s General Counsel and the Office of Legal Affairs at CUNY launched a full blown investigation in August 2011. Based on this investigation, another administrator and several faculty members were removed from the programs and disciplinary actions were initiated.
In addition, the three Executive Master’s degree programs were placed in receivership under the direct supervision of Interim Provost John Brenkman, who formed a three-person committee of experienced senior faculty to evaluate the programs and guide their redesign. Provost Brenkman’s pending decisions, which will be based in large part on the faculty committee’s recommendations, will be implemented by August, in time for the beginning of the Fall 2012 semester. The Provost has indicated that many of the actions he intends to take—in addition to those already instituted— will focus on tightening the management oversight of the three programs to ensure their integrity and quality going forward.
John Brenkman also formed a second internal committee consisting of experienced and respected senior faculty and administrators to review each of the fifteen student cases. It was decided that, if necessary, each student would be offered the opportunity to undertake additional work if it was determined that they had not properly completed all of the requirements for their Executive Master’s degree. Based on the committee’s review of the cases, however, the College does not currently anticipate that it will be necessary to rescind any degrees. Just as importantly, we will be able to continue to guarantee that no student has or will receive an unearned degree.
I want to underscore that the matters under investigation by Baruch and by the Office of Legal Affairs at CUNY are concerned exclusively with the three executive Master’s degree programs. No undergraduate or regular graduate degree programs are involved or affected. In fact, Baruch and the Zicklin School of Business continue to be highly regarded for the quality of our academic programs, earning national and international recognition for excellence. During the second half of Academic Year 2011-12, both Interim Provost Brenkman and I spoke publicly about the problems that were identified, as well as our aggressive investigation, at several regularly-scheduled faculty meetings to ensure transparency and to gain support from all academic quarters of Baruch College. We received many offers of help from our faculty colleagues, which only reinforces our conviction that the faculty is committed to protecting the College’s academic reputation as well as our students’ education experience.
Working with the CUNY Chancellery, Baruch’s paramount concern has been to affirm the integrity of every degree conferred by the Zicklin School of Business. We have received strong support in this endeavor from Chancellor Goldstein himself, and you will find appended to this message a copy of his statement on the matter, which was issued on Monday, June 18th. I also appreciate and value the ongoing support of the entire Baruch College community. As has been my practice in the past on a wide range of issues, I will continue to be transparent and communicative regarding the steps that we are taking both to rectify the problem and to assure that it cannot recur in the future.
Mitchel B. Wallerstein
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