In their first meeting since the publication of a local newspaper report that questioned the integrity of Psychology Prof. John Hagen’s courses, members of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs expressed interest in investigating the classes more closely.

The series of articles in The Ann Arbor News claimed that University advisers have pushed student-athletes toward Hagen’s independent study courses. According to the articles, these courses were graded loosely and required small amounts of coursework.

Many members of SACUA, the executive arm of the University’s primary faculty body, supported Hagen’s teaching methods.

Not all SACUA members, though, were convinced by Vice Provost Philip Hanlon, who contended that there was no basis for the concern surrounding Hagen’s courses.

“There is no higher priority than the academic success of our students,” Hanlon said. He added that the University had investigated the professor twice before the newspaper published the series.

After discussing the findings, some SACUA members were still looking for answers.

When SACUA members Physics Prof. Keith Riles and Law Prof. Richard Friedman asked Hanlon to address specific inaccuracies from the articles, Hanlon didn’t raise any.

“I would prefer to present the facts I know,” Hanlon said.

He eventually agreed to discuss the details of Hagen’s case in a follow-up meeting.

The series said Hagen taught 294 independent study courses between Fall 2004 and Fall 2007 – 251 of them were with student-athletes. At yesterday’s meeting, Hanlon said the average psychology professor teaches about 25 independent study courses per year.

When asked about the degree of difficulty in Hagen’s courses, Hanlon said University faculty have academic freedom over the content and teaching methods of their courses.

He said that the University “did not want to lay down direction on how courses had to be taught.”

“We feel that the types of content and learning styles are very different,” he said.

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