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Speaking of grading…

September 23, 2008, 10:53 am

…it’s not really good to farm out your grading tasks to a person who is not an employee of your university, as one faculty member at  IU-South Bend apparently has done:

Professor Otis B. Grant faces sanctions as a result of student complaints that he allowed a nonemployee to grade student work and access student academic records, a potential violation of federal privacy laws.

Students also complained that Grant used foul language in class, improperly canceled classes and dismissed two students from a course without due process.

The investigation did not determine the identity of Riane Hunter, the name used by a woman who identified herself as Grant’s graduate assistant. Students said she graded and signed their academic papers and sent instructions to the class from Grant’s campus e-mail address.

No one named Riane Hunter is employed by IUSB or has ever been enrolled at any IU campus, according to IU administrators. Students said Grant referred to a woman named Riane Hunter as his graduate assistant for several years, but no student has come forward who met her in person.

Indeed, some of the IUSB administrators are not even sure if “Riane Hunter” even exists. Read the whole article, which describes even more lurid behavior, such as summarily expelling students from a course and refusing to let students see their final exams. And yet, he was granted tenure and even won teaching awards as recently as 2005. If any one of those allegations are true, is it any wonder that the general public has such a negative view of higher education?

Ironically, Prof. Grant teaches “law and society” and affiliates himself with the “Institute for the Study of Race, Law and Public Policy” and the “Center for Leadership, Law and Culture”. The latter appears to be fictitious, based on newspaper investigation. The former has a web site here with almost nothing on it, with the exception of Prof. Grant’s credentials, which describe him as “a critical socio-legal theorist and psychoanalyst whose work focuses on the intersection of culture, jurisprudence, leadership and power” with “a particular interest in legal (un)consciousness”.

Indeed, you’d have to be pretty legally unconscious to think that you can hire out your grading and evaluations to a non-employee of the university and not violate FERPA in a hundred different ways.

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