A letter to the administration

Addison Smith | Opinions Editor

Hello Provost Timothy Austin,
It has recently come to the attention of students at Duquesne University that former student Lisa Haynes was awarded a retroactive degree after not completing all of the requirements to graduate. So, I thought I would propose some ideas to you and hopefully I or my fellow students can be awarded degrees as well if we choose not to complete a requirement.
Listen, I will be the first to admit that I don’t particularly excel in classes related to international relations and politics. It’s not that I don’t care about them, but I excel in American politics courses. If Haynes didn’t have to take a core class for her major, I can drop International Relations and Comparative Politics off my record, right?
Then there are my fellow students at Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit. Yes, in the name of the school a religious approach to education is implied, but there are students who attend the University who aren’t religious people. Does it seem fair to make these people enroll in faith and theology courses? If Haynes can be awarded a degree without a required course, surely the students who don’t practice a religion and don’t have a belief system won’t have to take courses based in theology.
So, let’s say I hypothetically decide to drop out of school, but I am offered a job with another university that pays six figures while vacationing, much like Haynes. If I don’t complete my coursework for the semester (a theology requirement, two political science requirements and a journalism requirement), but the job is based on a degree completion, I can call you, right? If Haynes can ask for a retroactive degree without one course, I may be able to as well, correct? Listen, my classes this semester are great, and I probably won’t drop out, but I think it’s nice to know that I have options.
Okay, those are some pretty extreme examples, I will admit, but I think my points seem valid. How can one person be awarded a degree without a requirement, but we’re told we can’t? I understand that Haynes was offered a great career, and she reached out to the University for a favor with a retroactive degree, but I want to be assured that others can pull the same stunt as well.
Needless to say, the University is facing questions about the awarding of a retroactive degree, and I do not disagree with questions raised. The question of why is still on everyone’s mind, and I hope that the University addresses it soon. Come out and make a statement about the retroactive degree so that students, alumni and the community can understand why it was awarded.
As a soon to be graduate of the University, this makes my future degree look bad. People will look at my degree as a degree from the school who awarded a retroactive diploma to someone who couldn’t complete coursework. Six figure salary at a new job or not, Haynes should not have been awarded her degree if she didn’t complete her requirements.
When May comes around, I will be graduating from Duquesne. Now, I have already accepted a job, so this may not be a problem for myself, but other students may not have their transcripts looked at seriously. One retroactive degree in the public sphere destroys the validity of the University and hurts others.
And if retroactive degrees are possible, I’m sticking to my guns and dropping courses off my record, because if one person can, I should be awarded the same luxury.


Addison Smith, Opinions Editor, The Duquesne Duke

Disclaimer: This letter was not actually sent, but was rather a way to write a column to bring forward a point. We hope it will be seen by the administration and the retroactive degree will be discussed.