Panel finds Bresch didn't earn M.B.A.

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A five-member panel has concluded unanimously that Mylan Inc. executive Heather Bresch, daughter of West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, did not fulfill the requirements for an M.B.A. degree from West Virginia University and that administrators acted improperly in granting her the degree retroactively in October, according to a person familiar with the report.

The panel's report, three months in the making, was delivered to WVU Provost Gerald Lang Monday. It has not been released publicly.

The university yesterday issued a brief statement saying the panel's findings were being given to the university's board of governors. Board Chairman Stephen Goodwin said in a statement that board members would meet today at 1 p.m. to discuss the report and review the panel's recommendations, after which "the report will be made public."

It is not known how much of the report will be released. Mr. Lang, who was responsible for approving the degree, has indicated that the findings would be scrubbed in accordance with privacy rules before being shared with the board and then the faculty senate.

Ms. Bresch, chief operating officer at the Cecil generic drug maker and a family friend and former business associate of WVU President Michael Garrison, has insisted she completed a master's degree in business administration in December 1998. She has repeatedly declined to provide a transcript or other documentation and has not spoken to the Post-Gazette since October, when she told the newspaper she had earned her degree.

Calls yesterday to Mylan headquarters and Gov. Manchin's office were not returned.

The investigative panel was formed amid public scrutiny in the wake of a Dec. 21 story by the Post-Gazette that raised questions about how university officials went about awarding the degree in October, nearly a decade after Ms. Bresch left the program, despite official university records showing she was 22 credits short of the 48 credits required to earn an M.B.A.

Roy Nutter, the WVU professor who chaired the panel, declined comment yesterday, standing by his statement Monday that panel members will not comment but will be watching as events unfold.

Mr. Nutter's appointment to the panel concerned some because of comments he made about the matter a week after the Dec. 21 story was published. In an e-mail to a Charleston, W.Va., newspaper reporter, the professor stated: "I seriously doubt ... that this occurred as it has been reported by the Pittsburgh paper."

He also said that if a degree was awarded to a student who had completed only half the credits, "I am indeed livid and heads should roll."

Other panel members are WVU professor Michael Lastinger, Pace University economics professor Arthur Centonze, University of Pittsburgh law professor John Burkoff and University of Missouri-Columbia management professor Lori Franz.

Faculty Senate Chairman J. Steven Kite, who represents the faculty on the board of governors, said yesterday he has seen the panel's report. He credited the members with doing a thorough and thoughtful job and said the faculty senate would see the report "in the very, very near future."

Mr. Kite said he will comment once the report is made public.

The Post-Gazette's research found that after the decision to award the degree was made, WVU added six classes, worth 16 credits, to Ms. Bresch's transcript, without documents showing she had registered, paid or done the work for them. In addition, six credits that had been listed as "incomplete" were changed to letter grades.

Officials made the changes after the Post-Gazette called to confirm Ms. Bresch's academic credentials following her promotion to COO. At first, the newspaper was told she did not finish her degree. Days later, officials reversed themselves, citing a record-keeping error.

Records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showed that after the newspaper's initial inquiry, a series of phone calls began between Ms. Bresch and Mr. Garrison's chief of staff, Craig Walker. Mr. Garrison has denied any involvement in the decision to grant the degree.

Since the Dec. 21 story, WVU officials have offered various, often contradictory, explanations of how they made the decision -- including acknowledgements by Mr. Lang and business school dean R. Stephen Sears that they lacked the records to show Ms. Bresch finished the degree.

Ms. Bresch broke months of silence earlier this month, telling other news media she finished her degree by using work experience instead of taking classes.

She has told university officials they do not have her permission to release to the public any information protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, sources have told the Post-Gazette.

"She wants to use FERPA to the fullest extent," one said.

The panel's report comes as Mylan prepares for its annual shareholder meeting, to be held Friday in Summit, N.J.


Patricia Sabatini can be reached at psabatini@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3066. Len Boselovic can wbe reached at lboselovic@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1941.


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