The results of an internal audit by West Virginia University’s College of Business and Economics will show there are problems with 70 to 80 degrees awarded over the years in the Executive Master of Business Administration program, the college’s new interim dean told the Daily Mail.

William Trumbull became interim dean of the college on July 1. He succeeds Stephen Sears, who was ousted after an investigation determined that Mylan Inc. Chief Operating Officer Heather Bresch — the daughter of Gov. Joe Manchin — had been awarded a degree last fall that she did not earn, nearly a decade after she left the program.

That scandal prompted the college to conduct an internal audit of all of its records.

Trumbull talked about the audit in an interview with the Daily Mail while attending the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Summit, which began Wednesday and continues through Friday at The Greenbrier Resort.

“The results of the internal audit will be handed over very soon — in the next few weeks — to AACRAO (the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers),” Trumbull said. “They had been engaged last spring to look at record-keeping, graduate certifications across the whole university. They’ll take a look at our whole audit.

“They’ll make recommendations to the university that will be made public,” he said.

“Peter Magrath (WVU’s interim president) is all about transparency. He says it’s all going to come out, whatever AACRAO says. So we’ll deal with it when it happens.”

Magrath replaced Mike Garrison earlier this summer after Garrison’s administration was tainted by the Bresch scandal. Since then, WVU has continued to study the validity of other degrees.

“The numbers are big,” Trumbull said of the degrees found to have problems.

“Truthfully, there are people who did graduate without sufficient credits. I don’t know what that number is. The numbers you hear are a combination of different things — did a person not have to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) entrance exam? How do you decide what credits to transfer in?”

Trumbull said an international trip is a part of the Executive MBA program, and has created questions about some degrees.

“A lot of students would take a trip to Germany — that’s part of the course. What does that count for? If you look back with the 20/20 wisdom of hindsight, you might ask, ‘Why was that course substitution made for some required course in the program?’ If there was a question about that kind of decision, it is in that number. The number is a combination of a lot of things.

“You add up all of the problems and it comes to between 70 and 80, I think,” he said.

“Remember, hundreds of people have graduated from the program since the mid-1990s. The audit has to do with everyone who graduated from the first cohort (class) of the eMBA to the present. So we’re talking about decisions that are now being questioned.

“We can question those decisions, but they were made in good faith by people who were trying to help people. They may have made mistakes because of sloppy procedures, inadequate resources at the time.”

It’s important to understand that what happened is a consequence of people trying to accommodate the needs of the students, Trumbull said.

“We’re not talking about corruption or bending to influence. It is purely a professional degree program for professionals who are working full time and have needs the typical student doesn’t have.

“I think it is a slippery slope, and we went too far down that slope. We need to get back up on a firm ledge and certify for graduation correctly when we make decisions about transferring credits and core substitutions — make sure we have a solid foundation for those kinds of decisions.”

Trumbull makes a clear distinction between the problems that have been found with the record-keeping and class work of some students and the Heather Bresch case.

“The Bresch situation is someone who did not graduate and, 10 years later, going to a decision.”

As for the other graduates, “It’s not like what people got in the past wasn’t a fantastic education,” Trumbull said. “It was.

“The accomplishments of those who graduate speak to the value of that degree. It’s really hard. It’s extremely rigorous. These guys are working full time. And this goes on for 2 1/2 years of their lives, and they’re balancing work and family. It’s incredible. The dedication is inspiring.

“What happened in the past happened in the past. I can’t change it. I want to go forward. I want to use the information about what went wrong to move forward, to make it a better program.”

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