Naval Academy's superintendent overturns professor's suspension ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

May 07, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

An article yesterday on the cheating scandal at the Nava Academy incorrectly attributed a comment Wednesday on the suspension of a department chairman to academy officials. In fact, professors at the academy made the comment.

The Sun regrets the errors.

The superintendent of the Naval Academy cleared the record yesterday of an engineering professor who had been suspended in the school's biggest cheating scandal in 20 years.

Rear Adm. Thomas C. Lynch overturned the suspension of Professor Raymond Wasta and restored the five days of pay he lost over spring break. He also issued a letter of caution in which he said the professor should have recognized the seriousness of the situation.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

The letter is nondisciplinary and will not remain on Dr. Wasta's record.

"He's very relieved," said Arthur R. Butler, lawyer for the professor, who had filed a grievance with the academy. "I think the system worked."

The chairman of the electrical engineering department, Dr. Richard L. Martin, also was disciplined in the scandal. He did not appeal his one-day suspension, academy officials said yesterday. On Wednesday, academy officials incorrectly said that Dr. Martin had received a five-day suspension.

Dr. Wasta, 56, was blamed when the master copy of the fall semester final exam for Electrical Engineering 311 vanished a few days before the test was given in December. He also was accused of mishandling an earlier exam.

Dr. Wasta was accused of failing to follow proper procedures in copying the final. He also was charged with not notifying his superiors when he realized it was missing.

But Mr. Butler argued in the grievance that the professor had given the first master copy to a secretary, who sent it by the usual courier service to the copy center. When it did not come back soon enough, Dr. Wasta informed the chairman that the test had disappeared.

"Mr. Wasta brought this to the attention of his department head, who indicated that he was too busy to track it down at that time and that another copy should be submitted for printing," Mr. Butler wrote in a nine-page letter urging that the professor be exonerated.

The superintendent repealed Dr. Wasta's suspension after he discovered the earlier exam had not been mishandled and that the professor had notified his superiors, academy officials said.

Professor Wasta had initially told naval investigators that he suspected the six-week exam had been lost, but later checked his records and found that was an error.

Twenty-eight midshipmen were implicated in passing around stolen copies of the final. Six of them were convicted and face expulsion.

Faculty members rallied around Dr. Wasta after he was suspended, chipping in money to make up for the lost salary and calling him a "scapegoat" of the administration.

Several professors who had lambasted the disciplinary action said yesterday that they were relieved it had been revoked.

"It was absolutely unfair. I'm glad there's been some justice," said a civilian professor who had expressed disgust at the

suspension.

Professors who attended a meeting of the Civilian Faculty Affairs Committee earlier this week said they were shocked to learn of Dr. Martin's suspension, which had been kept quiet since March.

Dr. Wasta's case became a focal point for faculty members concerned about what they see as an erosion of their academic freedom.

In the last two months, a faculty committee of both civilian and military professors considered disbanding, while the civilian committee began looking into union representation.

Faculty members also came up with a list of 38 complaints, which they are narrowing down, including concerns over the academy's strict honor code.

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