A former economics professor at Atlanta’s Spelman College alleges he was fired after he refused to inflate grades in an econometrics class.
Spelman, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) acclaimed for its rigorous academic standards, asked professor Kendrick Morales to artificially inflate grades after a number of students complained about the difficulty of the course, said Morales in an op-ed he wrote for The Free Press.
The college then violated its policy of leaving the grading to professors when it changed grades after he refused the grade inflation scheme, he said.
Notably, Morales had already “scaled up” the grades, because the class did poorly in a midterm.
Students complained vocally in class, stopped coming to class and instead attended the course “virtually.”
He described the students’ response to him as “chilly,” after he refused to make the grades even higher.
So, eventually the students went over his head and complained to the administration.
The college’s dean of undergraduate studies then responded by simply inflating the grades, without informing Morales, he said.
Ten months later, Morales found out about the grade inflation and lodged a protest with Spelman’s Faculty Council, which agreed “that grades are at the discretion of the instructor only,” according to Morales, but otherwise took no action.
A spokesman for the Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA), a group which supports faculty autonomy in the classroom, sided with Morales.
“Spelman College’s actions in this matter involve important issues at the heart of the academic and scholarly enterprise,” ADA Chair Keith Whittington told the college, according to the College Fix. “Members of the faculty must have the freedom to honestly assess the quality of the academic work of students and their mastery of course materials and concepts.”
Eight months after Morales discovered the grade inflation, the administration finally agreed to meet with him to address his concerns.
Morales said that he assumed the meeting would be cordial.
“And it was cordial,” he wrote, not without irony.
At that meeting they fired him.
“Spelman has decided not to renew your contract for the upcoming school year,” Spelman’s interim provost told him, according to Morales. “It would not be in the interest of you or the college to continue our professional relationship.”
Several hours later, the professor’s work email and other accounts were disabled, he said.
AFA called the grade inflation scheme a type of “intellectual fraud,” according to Inside Higher Ed.
“If the grading is done pursuant to an honest evaluation, sanctioning a professor for grading students too rigorously amounts to punishing him or her for being truthful about the quality of the students’ work—that is, punishing the instructor for fulfilling the institutional and fiduciary duty to honestly pursue truth,” AFA told Spelman.
Morales told Fox News that he’s considering a lawsuit against Spelman, but he’s also considering dropping out of academia completely, because grade inflation and academic dishonesty “corrupt” prestigious universities, including HBCUs.
He said that colleges and universities today are hostages to the demands of students, who want to get honors that they have not earned.
The result is “a degraded educational experience.”
“If college grades are fraudulent, doesn’t that mean a college degree is fraudulent too?” he asked.
“You bet it does,” he answered.
But, the dishonesty extends beyond Spelman and HCBUs.
In October, reports from the economics department of James Madison University indicated that at least one professor quit, another retired early and others were searching for new opportunities because of pressure to inflate grades.