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Dean departs UAS, reasons in dispute

Posted: April 10, 2012 - 11:03pm

University of Alaska Southeast Chancellor John Pugh said there will be no investigation by the school of plagiarism allegations against Dean of Students Jessie L. Grant, who has resigned.

An article in the Whalesong student newspaper this week noted the “uncanny similarity” between an article published under Grant’s name in the Capital City Weekly and a previously-published article in Boston.

The possible plagiarism is not a university issue, Pugh said.

“This is not an academic article, so it is not an academic issue,” he said.

The article, about the origin of gospel music, was written on behalf of Juneau’s Black Awareness Association for an event co-sponsored by the university.

“It was not written as a university article,” Pugh said.

The Capital City Weekly article was published in February.

Sherry Patterson, president of the association, refused to comment and hung up on a reporter. Grant is vice-president of the association.

Pugh notified the campus on April 2 that Grant submitted his resignation after have having been at the school for 2 1/2 years, though he made no mention of the reasons for Grant’s departure.

“After thorough consideration, I have accepted the resignation because I believe it is in the best interest of the university,” he said.

Pugh told the campus in a memorandum Grant would no longer be dean of students “effective immediately.”

Grant’s resignation letter, sent to Pugh on March 30, said he would be resigning as dean of students effective May 11.

Pugh said Grant continued teaching a class through the end of the term, which ends today.

Grant is no longer in the university directory and was unavailable for comment.

Pugh said Grant’s resignation letter cited no reason for leaving, but that he has spoken of family issues.

“He told me that he had some personal reasons for resigning and that his mom had been ill, hospitalized with renal failure,” he said.

Pugh acknowledged there had been calls within the university for an inquiry into the allegations about the article.

With Grant’s departure there will be no investigation of plagiarism allegations, which may have happened had he stayed, Pugh said.

Human Resources Director Kirk McAllister said he did not know why Grant departed.

“People leave for whatever reason,” he said.

Pugh’s memo to the university dealt mostly with moving forward, stating Dean of Enrollment Services Joe Nelson will assume supervisory responsibilities for the Student Resource Center and Stephanie Self will serve as interim director of Student Housing and Activities.

Grant’s resignation letter referred to his “three year tenure” at UAS and said he was proud to work with faculty, staff and students who “taught me many things about myself and higher education administration.”

He said he would “transition back to the Lower 48 to be with my family at this time.”

Among the issues Grant dealt with as dean of students was enforcement of the university’s plagiarism policy, and he had recently worked with the Faculty Senate on a system of tracking offenses.

That’s something Grant may not have to worry about himself. Pugh said future employers calling for information about Grant’s performance at UAS wouldn’t necessarily be told about the plagiarism allegation.

“From our viewpoint, and from our attorney’s view point, we do not have any responsibility to any future employer,” Pugh said.

At the university, and in the community, Grant played a positive role, he said.

“We thank him for his service, he did some really good things as dean,” Pugh said.

Grant holds a Bachelor of Science in sociology from Kent State University, a master’s degree in counselor education from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. from Western Michigan University.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com

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