Reader forum: The resignation of WVU president Mike Garrison

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West Virginia University President Mike Garrison announced his resignation today after weeks of pressure from faculty, alumni, donors and students who said he could no longer govern the state's flagship university in the wake of a degree-granting scandal involving the daughter of Gov. Joe Manchin. [ Read story ]

We asked post-gazette.com readers what they thought of the latest developments. Here's a sampling of their responses.


As a WVU Faculty Senator and co-sponsor of the recent Faculty Senate motion of "no confidence" in Mr. Garrison, I must say that I am both relieved and encouraged that Mr. Garrison's resignation may finally initiate the healing process many of us here at WVU had hoped would eventually come to fruition. I commend Mr. Garrison for his cathartic decision to step down amid the deepening crisis which has enveloped this venerable institution.

Nonetheless, there remain a few outstanding issues that must be addressed if WVU is to fully recover from the brink of figurative conflagration. Foremost amongst these are the nature of the search process for Mr. Garrison's successor and the future composition of WVU's Board of Governors. Should the pols in Charleston, specifically the Governor, be permitted to operate in the same unfettered political fashion that ultimately resulted in the selection of an unqualified president, then we will face the distinct possibility of revisiting future versions of the Heather Manchin Bresch affair. Political appointees to the WVU Board of Governors, not subject to an appropriate vetting process, would simply perpetuate the aura of pervasive mistrust that presently exists between Morgantown and Charleston. The concept of shared governance between administration and faculty should now be fully embraced at West Virginia's flagship university. To do anything less would be a profound disservice to the WVU community and the people of the great state of West Virginia.

Sincerely,

Robert D. Chetlin, PhD, CSCS, HFI
Associate Professor
Department of Human Performance & Applied Exercise Science
Division of Occupational Therapy
Department of Neurology
West Virginia University School of Medicine


It is about time! But more importantly, politics has to be disengaged from West Virginia University administrative decisions, from the Governor, Board of Governors, Legislature on down. Garrison stepping down will not clean out the house. WVU is rife with political intrigue and the "good old boys" network in Charleston that tends to run things here. The true educational purpose of a university has been totally lost at Morgantown. I taught at WVU 49 years and have seen more and more emphasis on political connections, football, big money, and failure to realize what a university is supposed to be. Short of a complete clean house, WVU will sink ever lower.

I was told by a famous American scientist in January 1960 at a meeting in Chicago that he did not believe that the State of West Virginia would ever have the money and KNOWHOW to build and maintain a first class research university. Over the years I hoped things would improve but this Heather Bresch bogus degree scandal has exposed the tragic loss of academic integrity at WVU. I remain loyal to WVU, where I built a solid career in mathematics, but all the scoundrels need to be forced out of our sacred academic temple of learning.

Respectfully, and with thanks to the Pittsburgh Post for exposing the scandal,

Henry W. Gould
WVU Professor Emeritus of Mathematics
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
WVU Benedum Distinguished Scholar (1988
Editor of scientific journals in China, Serbia, Canada, USA etc.


I would like to thank Mr. Boselovic and Ms. Sabatini as well as the entire PG for their accurate and relentless coverage of this whole fiasco. As a current WVU student and employee, as well as a resident of West Virginia, I am ashamed at what has transpired over the past 6 months. We as West Virginians are already stereotyped and cast in a negative light just because of where we are from. WVU is the biggest beacon of the success and possibilities that West Virginia has and can have, and that beacon has been dimmed because of this scandal. Mr. Garrison's resignation was undoubtedly needed, and I agree that it could have happened sooner. Although he may or may not have had a direct hand in granting an unearned degree, his governance of the university during the situation makes him just as accountable. I know that Mr. Garrison knows what the Mountaineer Creed is - a listing of university values that WVU students and alumni should uphold. He must have just overlooked or forgotten the first line of the creed: "As a Mountaineer, I will: Practice academic and personal integrity".

We as the Mountaineer Nation must now heal the divides that exist because of this and continue to move WVU, its mission, and its values forward. Our success in academics (as mentioned previously, 6th among public universities with 25 Rhodes Scholars, along with 30 Goldwater and 19 Truman Scholars), as well as in athletics will endure and help to restore some of the luster back to WVU's reputation. As someone with a vested interest in and the utmost pride in my state and university, I can only hope that the restoration process is a swift one so the focus can return to just how great of a place West Virginia University really is - a place that is truly "Almost Heaven".

George Gerbo, Weirton, WV


Could the Post-Gazette find something else to write about, enough already.

Diane L. Murphy, Class of '87


I am amazed at the number of comments criticizing this paper for covering this story. Ms. Bresch started this by testifying before Congress, the SEC and stating before a group of investors that she possessed an MBA from WVU. Upon her promotion to COO - with a salary of nearly $500,000 - the PG did the traditional background check. Perhaps if Mylan wasn't a publicly traded company based in Cecil Township, Pennsylvania, this may have flown under the radar. The West Virginia newspapers had to play a quick game of catch up on this one.

I'm not quite sure how someone can overlook the fact that they do not have a diploma or a certified transcript in their possession to prove an achievement such as earning an MBA. This is a person that Mylan decided to elevate to the position of Chief Operating Officer - a position I would think requires some attention to detail.

Of course, when you are the daughter of the Governor, employee of the University's top benefactor and a close friend and former boss of the University president why worry, you're working with a political trifecta!

I hope this is behind all of us - as alumni and friends of the University. Now when I state that I have a BSPE and a BSJ degree from WVU, I will not have to follow up with "honest, I do, you can look it up". (and the diplomas are hanging - with pride - on the wall).

Thanks to Len and Patricia for a job well done.

Joyce Lookabill Biearman, South Fayette Township, PA




Life is all about making choices, and living with the consequences. Mr. Garrison's choice to remain close to the Manchin family, unfortunately, has led to his undoing and he'll live with that forever. My guess is the Manchin clan will sleep fine.

Steve Swiger, Winchester, WVU class of '79




This is a great day for West Virginia University and for all of academia. At long last, the University can seek to regain its academic integrity and return to the good graces of its benefactors.

I am convinced that the catalyst in the resignation (being pushed out the door) of President Michael Garrison was the vast amount of coverage afforded the matter by skilled and dogged Post-Gazette reporters and editorial page contributors. We are in their debt for keeping the matter in the spotlight and clearly demonstrating the injustice being perpetrated against the school through the presence of Mr. Garrison.

May no one be naive enough to believe that Mr. Garrison would have chosen to leave had unrelenting pressure not continued to mount and the handwriting not been on the wall: that his continued service as president was a slap in the face to devoted and honorable students, alumni, and faculty members.

Let not Mr. Garrison's heart be troubled; surely there would now be a place for a political hack like him in the administration of "The Decider".

Now it is time for Mylan executive Heather Bresch to resign, as she accepted and boasted of possessing a college degree that she knows she did not earn. Is it the policy of Mylan Laboratories to retain employees after it is learned that their credentials have been falsified, or is that only done when the employee is well-connected?

Oren M. Spiegler, Upper Saint Clair PA




I disagree with Dave Strum that this was about a Pittsburgh paper going after a University in another city -- The Post-Gazette went after the county's own community college a few years ago for far less egregious goings-on. That president didn't survive either. While I agree there is a tendency on the paper's part to get its teeth into something and not let go, this is a story that had to be told and people who violate academic integrity and the public trust should be made to pay.

Garrison should resign much sooner -- why wait until another school year has started and another freshmen class arrives on campus? He should make a clean break and clear out his office now.

Martha Stevens, Pittsburgh, PA


He should not have been given the chance to resign. President Mike Garrison should have been fired, although the distinction may be moot.

Maybe this kind of thing happened on his watch, and underlings kept it secret from him. But the scandal clearly came to light on his watch, and he hardly showed character or leadership in cleaning it up.

And speaking of character or leadership, have we heard anything from Mr. Manchin or his daughter, Mylan Inc. executive Heather Bresch? Has she offered to "return" the degree?

Kind of ironic that the PG only found this little mess by accident.

Rod Anderson, Allison Park


Although President Garrison's resignation has been slow in coming, it is welcomed by many of us alumni who have called for it. The culture of WVU has become so politicized that academic integrity has been violated. I am especially grateful to the faculty for taking a strong stand, to Peter Kalis and other prominent alumni for consistently standing up for WVU, and to the students who organized a forum and editorialized in the student newspaper.

The kind of change that is needed at WVU takes time. As an alumna of the College of Business and Economics, my immediate concern is that the degrees that have been questioned be examined by an independent panel. All eMBA holders should have clear and valid degrees. Their work is being devalued by lumping minor transcript issues with an outright academic fraud in the granting of a phony degree to Ms. Bresch.

Another current issue is the naming of an interim president who will bring academic credibility to WVU. Equally important is the replacement of political appointees on the Board of Governors with persons who have solid academic credentials. The terms of three members are about to expire.

The presidential search should follow the guidelines outlined by Peter Kalis in a published article. Since the culture of WVU is determined by the integrity and excellence of the person at the top, the next president will be key to improving the current conflicted culture.

Karen L. LeMasters, Ph.D, Bethel Park, PA


Congratulations to Len Boselovic and Patricia Sabatini on a great job of investigative reporting. All of the stories for the past three months have been well researched and well written. The relentless pressure on Mr. Garrison finally paid off with his resignation. Now the pressure should be directed toward the root of the problem, Governer Manchin, who has used the power of his office for corruption of a fine educational institution. It is time for the people of West Virginia to speak up and vote this governer and his cronies from Mylan Pharmeceutical out of business

Terry Smith, Mt. Lebanon, PA


After reading the article I must agree with most of your readers to the fact that Mr. Garrison's resignation is only the first step.

He can not be served up as the sacrificial lamb and then white wash the rest. Investigations need to be made and those others involved need to be help accountable!

What is the need to teach students about accountability if those in charge will not be held accountable? Shall we just continue to leave the foxes guarding the hen house? That would be foolish and irresponsible.

Carlos Victoria, New Haven, CT.


I would like to respond to Barry Steinberg's comments on this forum. WVU has the 6th most Rhodes Scholars among public universities. Not bad for a bunch of rednecks that have good sports teams is it? Next time do your research before you make idiotic comments.

Paul Kremer, Winston-Salem, NC


President Garrison's resignation is a first step, but only that. The members of the BOG need to resign and charges for dismissal need to be brought against those involved in changing transcripts and/or lying about it. (How can the guilty people teach when their grades can not be trusted.) The State needs to investigate as does the U. S. Department of Education. It needs to start NOW. I and others have called for this some time ago -- Marsha Ashdown, do you hear us?

Sam B. Nadler, Jr., Toledo, Ohio


Politics is a beast unto itself, and part of what makes everything tick in America. In this case, politics and education did not mix, and people were caught with trying to exploit the system.

WVU has always be known as a great sports school, and that's about it. Its reputation throughout the nation will sink even lower.

Barry Steinberg, Memphis, TN


I believe stepping down is the right move. It disgusts me to read about what happened at this University. I work at a university in a graduate program and would be disgusted if that were to happen here. I believe he knew what was going on - she was a good friend, don't you think they spoke.

Don't you think she knew she didn't complete the program. If she didn't know it and if he didn't know what was going on in his university then they both need to be working at McDonald's somewhere certainly not working in a position that deals with people's lives. I hope that where she works now fires her for being dishonest. I wouldn't want to deal with the company she works for if they hire people with false credentials.

Alberta Ragan, Pittsburgh PA


After reading this story from day one, THIS is the article I've been waiting to read. My next question, of course, is to Ms. Bresch. How does it feel to watch so many take the fall for your lies and deceit? You, Ms. Bresch, should follow your "friend" out the door.

Chris Commella, Pittsburgh


This entire escapade has put a black mark on the degree that I worked so hard 28 years ago to attain. The next plausible step would be for the entire Board of Governors to follow Garrison's lead and step down. Until each and every person involved in this scandal is removed from the University, the scandal will continue to tarnish the degrees of it's graduates. I want to thank the Post Gazette for it's relentless coverage of this issue.

Amy Martin, Lakewood Ohio


I too thank the Post-Gazette for the work done on this story.

It is sad this story had drag on so long but perhaps now WVU can start to put this sorry affair behind us and move forward. I do not give Garrison credit for doing "the right thing". The right thing would have been to resign weeks ago. At least this shows that that enough us work together to exert pressure we can get things done.

Joe Luchok, WVU alum, Arlington, VA




It would seem that If Mike Garrison had demonstrated that " he had the best interests of the university at heart" according to Steve Goodwin, chairman of the WVU's board of governors, it would not have taken six months in which Mr. Garrison refused to acknowledge his accountability for the actions of his administration. The irony is the safe assumption of the actions this university would have taken against students if they had dared to falsify their records. I also disagree with the provost and the business school dean continuing to teach at the university. I believe their integrity is beyond compromised; it has been destroyed.

Diane Mousseau, Plum




Finally! Michael Garrison's long overdue resignation is a first, major step in the house-cleaning that is needed to restore integrity at WVU. All other parties involved in the granting of a bogus MBA degree to Ms. Bresch should be resign or be fired by the Interim President, whomever that may be.

I concur that Ms. Bresch (and Governor Manchin) should certainly be ashamed of the damage this whole fiasco has inflicted on WVU, its students, and alumni.

The University's Board of Governors must be restructured to eliminate the political nature of the board to avoid any scandals in the future.

Dave Gross, WVU Class of '83, Bethesda, Maryland


NOW HEATHER BRESCH HAS TO GO FROM MYLAN TO RIGHT THIS SHIP AND BE FAIR TO MYLANS EMPLOYEE'S. SHE IS NOT ENTITLED TO WORK FOR THIS PUBLIC TRADED COMPANY

Richard Fraer Pittsburgh


It's a great day to be a Mountaineer wherever you are today, as Tony Caridi would say. As an alum of WVU I know there is still an uphill climb to restore the school's academic integrity and winning back the trust of students, faculty, and alums. Whomever takes the job will have to be someone who has experience in leading higher education institutions in similar circumstances.

Shannon Blosser, Wilmore, KY


As a great fan of the university and what it does and stands for, I hope that this newspaper can move on to a different story.

I truly believe that if this would have happened at any school other than WVU that this wouldn't have been covered this closely by a Pittsburgh paper. I know it would be a non story if this happened at PITT.

Its all about giving the university a bad name. Not journalism!

Dave Strum - Columbia SC


Thank you, Post-Gazette, for your tremendous reporting to bring this issue to light and to hold the Garrison administration accountable for its reprehensible conduct. As a 1982 journalism graduate of WVU, I was appalled by the actions of WVU administrators, starting right with Mr. Garrison, and even more appalled by a system of political cronyism starting with Gov. Manchin, Board of Governors President Goodwin and WVU President Garrison. I admire their love of WVU, just like mine, but I despise how they used their political influence and connections to besmirch the character, credibility and reputation of my alma mater, not only as the flagship university of West Virginia, but also as the major national and international institution of higher learning that WVU is.

Matthew M. Polka, BSJ, WVU '82, JD Duquesne University '86,
North Versailles, PA




As an alumnus of WVU, I am very relieved when I heard of Mr. Garrison's resignation. I was still a student when he was appointed and everyone knew then that he was appointed for corrupt reasons. Mr. Hildebrand is correct, why stop there? The people who appointed Garrison should be removed from the board. Hopefully the country will look favorably on us for ousting Mr. Garrison instead of badly for appointing him for the wrong reasons to begin with. It was obviously never want the staff or students wanted. Let's not forget, also, that 10% of the MBA's offered were not earned, not just Ms. Bresch's. Are all of their degrees being revoked as they should, or just Heather's because of her family name? I am proud of the degree I earned and do not want it tarnished by others walking around with the same without putting in the time and hard work.

Christina Smith, Plum, PA




It is a great day to be a Mountaineer! Garrison finally put the best interests of the university ahead of his own. The healing process can finally begin. The BOG now has an opportunity to fix a hire that shouldn't have been made in the first place. It is extremely important that they get this hire right so that academic integrity can be restored to WVU. Thank you Mike for finally doing the right thing.

Paul Kremer, Winston-Salem, NC


This is another black eye for WVU. Hopefully, all individuals will eventually make a public apology to the students, alumni, and faculty. It would be beneficial if the entire guilty party (and I mean everybody Heather) have a group forum and answer questions from the media on how they collaborated to do this. Perhaps this would discourage these kinds of Jersey politics in the future.

Why is everybody resigning from embarrassment yet Heather Bresch feels it is acceptable to keep her job? She should resign just out of guilt! The position she has right now is based upon credentials that are a damn lie! At least Mylan finally updated their website and took off the MBA she never earned.

I agree with a previous post that Governor Manchin also a resign. He and his daughter should be ashamed of themselves for wrecking the lives of so many.

Bill Quinolone, New Brunswick, NJ




It was long overdue and truly sad that the Board of Governors took no action earlier. The new incoming President will face a true challenge restoring WVU's name and it's academic credibility. There are certainly ripples that are lapping at the Governor Manchin's door as well.

Ed Gebauer, Charleroi, PA


It is a wise move for President Garrison to resign. But, why stop there? Should not Governor Manchin also resign as it is apparent to most intelligent people that Garrison would not have been in his position without the "recommendation" of the Governor. And, there is no way this whole episode would have been accomplished with the Governor's daughter getting her MBA without the urging of the Governor.

Of course since governor Manchin is a Democrat this is very acceptable behavior that the Post-Gazette will not investigate. Come on PG don't stop with the President's resignation, go for Joe also.

David Hildebrand, Oil City, PA


Thank God this is finally over. Maybe now the Post-Gazette can move on to covering something else. The obsession with this story was getting ridiculous. There is a reason no one else in Pittsburgh even posted a blurb about this. No one cares.

Chris Walters Pittsburgh


As a faculty member at WVU, I want to thank the Post-Gazette for uncovering Heathergate. If it were up to the WV media we would never have known that this travesty occurred. I am gratified that Garrison has seen the light, and I hope that WVU can recover its good name.

Donald D. Gray, Ph.D., P.E.
Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, West Virginia University


It is about time he resigned. And, the way I figure it, since his decision is long overdue, he went out kicking and screaming. Of course, this is what is best for WVU. As for Mr. Garrison, I am sure he will find another high salaried position in the not too distant future, most likely with a company like ... I don't know, maybe Mylan Inc.? I mean, he can add at least 2 high-profiled references on his resume: Heather Bresch and Joe Manchin.

Michael M. Bierce, Brighton Heights
MSA Central Michigan University



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