The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

State News

June 29, 2013

WVU to judge: Dismiss new lawsuit by ex-deans

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University wants a federal judge to dismiss the third lawsuit in four years by two former business school deans who say their reputations were tarnished during a 2007 master’s degree scandal.

The case involved Mylan Inc. executive Heather Bresch, daughter of then-Gov. Joe Manchin.

An independent investigation found that administrators added courses and grades to her transcript. It also concluded that former dean Stephen Sears, former associate dean Cyril Logar and several others “showed seriously flawed judgment.”

WVU said in a response this week that it has no obligation to restore the deans’ reputations and denies any breach of contract occurred after an academic-misconduct investigation ended last summer.

WVU also says the pair has raised no viable claims against the administrators named as defendants or against the Board of Governors, which it argues is immune from liability. Every previous lawsuit was dismissed, WVU says, and this one breaks no new ground.

The plaintiffs don’t complain that officials made disparaging remarks about them after the internal investigation ended, WVU contends. “In fact, they argue the opposite — that defendants did not make any statements about them.”

“Refusal to make statements to allegedly restore a person’s reputation is not a protected liberty interest.”

WVU’s academic integrity policy clearly “requires a finding that no academic misconduct has been committed before any obligation to restore reputation arises,” the school argues. “Here, it is undisputed that no finding at all was made with respect to either plaintiff.”

Last summer, academic integrity officer Nigel Clark merely said there would be no further action against anyone involved.

“This decision is based solely on the inability to reach conclusion in a timely matter,” he said, “and should not be construed as a determination on the merits of the underlying allegations.”

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