Second professor disciplined Naval Academy suspends superior in cheating scandal

May 06, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

Naval Academy officials confirmed yesterday that a second professor was disciplined in the school's widely publicized cheating scandal.

Richard L. Martin, the chairman of the electrical engineering department, also was suspended during spring break, according to professors who learned of the disciplinary action Tuesday. He declined to comment.

Faculty members have been angered by the five-day suspension of Professor Raymond Wasta, the course coordinator, for "careless performance of duties." They were stunned to learn that the chairman also had been suspended for allegedly failing to alert his superiors after the exam vanished in December.

Academy officials refused to specify the action against Dr. Martin but said it occurred at the same time as Dr. Wasta's suspension.

"Basically, it was for the [electrical engineering] situation," said Cmdr. Mike John, an academy spokesman. "He played a role because he was the superior."

Professors said it was "a bombshell" when they learned of the action at a meeting of the Civilian Faculty Affairs Committee. Several professors who attended the 1 p.m. meeting said Dr. Martin was initially suspended for 10 days like Dr. Wasta, but both were given reduced suspensions of five days.

Arthur R. Butler, Dr. Wasta's attorney, has filed a grievance arguing that his client promptly notified the chairman when the final exam for Electrical Engineering 311 did not come back soon enough from the printing center.

Twenty-eight midshipmen were accused of passing around stolen copies of the exam for one of the toughest courses at the academy. Honor boards made up of midshipmen found 11 guilty. Four were later exonerated by the commandant and one by the superintendent, who found insufficient evidence against them.

The six midshipmen facing expulsion from the academy have appealed their cases to the Secretary of the Navy.

They argue that they were the only students to confess and admit their roles in the scandal.

Rear Adm. Thomas C. Lynch, the superintendent, has defended expelling the six young men, saying they knowingly broke the academy's strict honor code and did not admit their guilt until a month later.

Dr. Wasta maintains he was not negligent in handling the exam. The professor said he sent the test by courier service to the copy center approximately a week before it was given to some 700 juniors, according to statements obtained by The Sun. When Dr. Wasta called a few days later, the copy center informed him that there was no record of the exam having arrived.

Professor Wasta then notified the department chairman, who recommended providing another copy to the printer, according to the documents.

The civilian faculty committee met Tuesday to look into another complaint made against Dr. Wasta for leaving a practice quiz on a copy machine while he went to look at a newspaper.

While he was gone from the faculty room for several minutes, Air Force Col. Jim Kendrick, who teaches in the neighboring weapons department, picked up the quizzes and sent a stern memo to Dr. Martin on April 27.

"Now is not the time to lose another test in any department, particularly [electrical engineering]," wrote Colonel Kendrick, who will be replacing Dr. Martin as department chairman next semester.

The faculty committee concluded Tuesday that "the whole affair has been characterized by overreaction" and illustrates the atmosphere of "fear and intimidation" on campus.

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