Black cloud hangs over the US

May 26, 2000

American college presidents continue to be submerged in a wave of scandals.

The president of Century College, Minnesota, Charles Hays, has been forced to resign after an investigation found he had repeatedly made sexually and racially offensive comments to employees and printed email messages containing sexual content.

He denied the charges, but "indicated that his resignation would be in the best interests of the college", according to a statement from the school. Investigators said Dr Hays had blamed his Texas upbringing for the ribald behaviour, which he said had been misunderstood.

In a separate case, Alan Stone, president of Alma College, Michigan, resigned after odd behaviour that caused the departure of all the college's top administrators and led to two votes of no confidence by the board of trustees.

Dr Stone was described as a "micromanager", who had attacked faculty and students for disagreeing with him. A gifted fundraiser off campus, he alienated people on campus with his hot temper and once refused to acknowledge a student at an awards convocation because her faculty adviser had been one of his principal critics.

The president of Hastings College, Nebraska, Richard Hoover, announced his retirement amid allegations that he had committed plagiarism. He acknowledged copying remarks for a speech from an email message someone had sent him. Dr Hoover immediately retired, but he denied any wrongdoing. He said his actions did not comprise plagiarism because he did not know who had written the original message.

Scott Miller, president of Wesley College, Delaware, was accused of plagiarising a speech written by Claire Gaudiani, president of Connecticut College, who, in turn, is the subject of a petition by faculty seeking her dismissal for spending practices that have resulted in budget cuts.

At Wesley, an undergraduate doing research discovered a paper by Dr Miller that contained word-for-word sections of a speech written years before by Dr Gaudiani. Dr Miller's biography also apparently contains misleading information. He said he could not explain the lapses.

"Plagiarism is hard to understand coming from faculty members and administrators, not only in general, but because it's very difficult for us to hold students to higher standards if we don't meet them ourselves," Dr Gaudiani said in a statement.

Days later, in an unrelated development, the Connecticut College faculty signed a petition demanding that Dr Gaudiani should be removed. They said she had failed to consult them before making decisions and had made spending decisions that had forced budget cuts.

The cases are the latest in a 12-month roll of disasters surrounding university heads in the US.

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