CUNY Inflated Grades Of Sponsored Students

An administrator at Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business allegedly forged professors’ names to raise the grade point averages of students seeking executive master’s degrees.

The New York Post yesterday (June 17) reported that an internal probe at City University of New York found the course grades of “approximately 15 students” were falsified to keep their GPAs high enough to stay in the programs.

The fraud prevented the studnets, including many mid-level Wall Streeters whose firms picked up their tabs, from flunking out — and kept their tuition checks flowing in.

“It was done for money,” an insider told the newspaper. “They get a lot more money from those students. They don’t want to lose these people, so they changed their grades.”

Baruch has referred the matter to law-enforcement agencies, the college said in a statement.

The Post quoted unidentified CUNY sources saying that Chris Koutsoutis, a top administrator of the executive programs, allegedly forged professors’ signatures on “change of grade” forms. “I won’t have a comment about that,” Koutsoutis said when confronted by the New York Post at his home in Flushing, Queens. “All I will say is whatever allegations that I did it for financial gain, they are false. No students, faculty or administrators gave me any money. I never took any freebies. I was offered trips but never took any,” he said.

Koutsoutis, who worked at Zicklin for 11 years, was “removed” last August. Sources told the Post he was escorted out of his office at the college’s 24th Street campus in New York.

Koutsoutis said he wasn’t terminated but retired. “They did not like the way I was doing my job, and we mutually agreed I should leave,” he told the newspaper, adding he stayed on the payroll until February to cash in unused vacation and sick days.

Others connected to the scandal are facing disciplinary charges or leaving quietly.

The dean of the Zicklin School, John Elliott — who the Post said directly supervised Koutsoutis — quietly resigned to take a job as dean of the University of Connecticut’s business school, starting in August.

Baruch President Mitchel Wallerstein told the Faculty Senate about the forgery scandal at a meeting in March.

“The college believes the grade changes were intended to keep some students’ GPAs high enough to remain in the programs,” Wallerstein said, according to minutes of the meeting.

If students do not earn a 3.0 or “B” average each trimester, they can be put on probation or kicked out. Before each trimester, students must pay tuition installments of $11,000 to $13,500. The total cost of the 10-month executive MS in finance program is now $44,000. The 10-month executive MS in financial statement analysis is $45,000, and the 22-month executive MBA program costs $75,000.

A faculty committee will examine cases of students whose grades were forged and give them the chance to complete any work required to earn their diplomas. “The college does not currently anticipate that it will be necessary to rescind degrees because of this unfortunate incident,” Baruch said.

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