- The Washington Times - Friday, July 25, 2008

RICHMOND | Several Virginia Commonwealth University administrators have resigned after an investigation into the improper awarding of a bachelor’s degree to Richmond’s former police chief.

University officials confirmed the resignations but aren’t linking them to the diploma investigation. One administrator was dean of the college that awarded the degree, and two others criticized how university officials conducted the probe.

Robert D. Holsworth is resigning as dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences. Mr. Holsworth, a noted political analyst, will continue as a political science professor and special assistant to the provost. Mr. Holsworth did not return messages Wednesday.

Michael D. Pratt is stepping down as interim director of the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs and director of the university’s Center for Public Policy. He will remain a professor of economics. A telephone message left Wednesday for Mr. Pratt was not returned.

S. Jon Steingass resigned as dean of the university’s University College, which awarded Chief Rodney D. Monroe the bachelor of arts degree in interdisciplinary studies in May 2007, despite his failure to meet degree requirements for transfer students. He is now police chief in Charlotte, N.C.

Mr. Steingass also was associate dean for undergraduate affairs for the College of Humanities and Sciences. The university said he has taken a job in another state.

Mr. Holsworth and Mr. Pratt were critical of the university’s investigation into the improper awarding of the degree to Chief Monroe. University officials said last month that Chief Monroe completed six credit hours, far short of a quarter of his total course work, but it allowed him to keep the degree. The university subsequently announced that it had disciplined those involved but declined to disclose names or details.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is conducting an independent investigation. The association is the accreditation group for 11 states, including Virginia.

The resignations come in light of two controversies, the Monroe degree and a task force looking into the implications of the university’s acceptance of research contracts from tobacco giant Philip Morris USA.

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