Premature grads

Jerome C. Pandell

When McCormick freshman Hari Santhanam checked his e-mail Tuesday morning, he was surprised to learn that he received a journalism diploma in December 2002.

“If the university is going to give me a diploma, then I’m going to hold them to it,” said Santhanam, who said he quickly realized that the subject of the e-mail, “December Journalism Diplomas,” did not apply to him.

The message was intended for a small group of students in the Medill School of Journalism’s graduate program who received their degrees at the end of Fall Quarter but had a misprint on the diploma, University Registrar Suzanne Anderson said.

Instead, the Office of the Registrar sent the message not just to the recent graduates, but to all undergraduate and graduate students in all of Northwestern’s schools through NU Information Technology bulkmail. The gaffe was a human error, Anderson said.

The e-mail message also incorrectly listed the graduation date as 2002 instead of 2001. The correct graduation date was printed on the students’ transcripts, but not on the diplomas, said Christina Adkins, an academic records assistant for Medill.

Anderson said the correct graduates also received Tuesday’s e-mail and will get their new diplomas with the correct date during the week of Jan. 21. Anderson said the Registrar’s Office would send an e-mail this morning explaining to students why they received the e-mail Tuesday.

“An effort to inform students went astray,” Anderson said. She said many confused students replied to the e-mail wondering why it was sent to them.

Another recipient said such a factual error would result in an automatic zero, had he committed it in a Medill class.

“If we got a date wrong on a story,” said Medill sophomore Mark Schneider, “we’d get the famous ‘Medill F’ because there’s no tolerance for mistakes like that.”