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Students complain about GPA errors

BY Andrea Torres | THE RIDER

Aurora Benavides, who has an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy checks her transfer credits to enroll at UTRGV last Thursday at The Tower in Brownsville./Ana Cahuiche/ The Rider
Aurora Benavides, who has an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy checks her transfer credits to enroll at UTRGV last Thursday at The Tower in Brownsville./Ana Cahuiche/ The Rider

While reviewing her undergraduate GPA through UTB Online in early August, Liza Berrout noticed that it was higher than what was reflected on her UTRGV transcript.

“It was different by, like, .3 or .2, like, it was significant,” said Berrout, who is now a graduate student in biology at UTRGV. “It was the same classes but they weren’t counting them the same.”

She is among several students who have complained to university officials about the academic record errors.

When Berrout noticed the difference, she contacted Associate University Registrar Jerry Martinez.

In his email reply to Berrout, which she provided to The Rider, Martinez wrote: “We identified the errors and we’ll update your record. Sorry for the confusion.”

Although the error was fixed through ASSIST, a site that provides a variety of online services to students regarding registration, financial aid, payment and grades, Berrout said she still does not see the correction in Career Connection, the university’s online job search portal.

Lourdes Servantes, associate director of the Career Center, said in an interview that the center updates each student’s information as it is needed, either weekly or daily. The center updates a student’s GPA based on a document it receives from the Registrar’s Office.

“Usually, when the system changes, that’s what changes,” Servantes said. “It is important that if students notice any discrepancies they have to let us know.”

Berrout, who said she should have been informed about this GPA error earlier, asked Martinez on Aug. 18 via email: “Shouldn’t [the] Registrar’s [Office] send a mass email warning students to double check their GPA[?]”

That same day, Martinez replied: “We have been trying to formulate a plan to notify students about possible GPA inaccuracies.”

The Rider contacted Martinez and University Registrar Sofia Montes for an interview regarding the issue but both referred the newspaper to University Marketing and Communications.

On Aug. 20, Patrick Gonzales, associate vice president for University and Marketing and Communications, declined an interview with The Rider, but sent an explanation about the university’s transfer policy:

“As a new institution UTRGV implemented its own academic policies, one of which is a GPA (grade-point average) policy. The policy was published in the University Undergraduate Catalog, which is available to all students online. It states that UTRGV uses a native grade-point average, that is, GPA is calculated on the basis of courses taken at UTRGV, including the legacy institutions, and excludes grades transferred. Courses transferred from other institutions can be used to fulfill requirements at UTRGV, though the grades earned in those courses do not contribute to the UTRGV GPA.”

The course catalog is available by clicking the academics tab on the home page, utrgv.edu.

Gonzales also wrote that it is important to apply the policy consistently to all UTRGV students, “whether new, transitioning from UTB, transitioning from UTPA, or transferring from any other institution.”

He encourages students who question the accuracy of or have concerns about their GPA or any other educational record to contact Montes at sofia.montes@utrgv.edu.

This issue was first brought up to The Rider by Claudia Gomez, who identified herself as a concerned student, and copied the newspaper in an email she sent to former UTB President Juliet V. García on Aug.25.

“Since UTRGV academic policy states no transfer grades will be counted in the GPA (which is okay for those new students starting Fall 2015), they used a UTRGV policy that is effective Fall 2015 and applied it to legacy students,” Gomez wrote in the email to García, who now is a senior adviser to UT System Chancellor William McRaven.

Gomez declined an interview and referred The Rider to Alondra Galvan, Student Government Association vice president for Brownsville.

Galvan said she took the issue to UTRGV Student Success Vice President Kristin Croyle.

Students who have taken courses at the legacy institutions UTPA, UTB and UTB/TSC will not see a change since UTRGV counts this as “institutional grades.” The only grades that are not being transferred in are those from non-legacy institutions, Croyle said in an interview.

This practice was previously used at UTPA but not at UTB.

Around five students have brought up the incorrect GPA issue to Croyle, she said.

During the first and transition years of UTRGV, the university signed three memorandums of understanding on credit transfers with Texas Southmost College, South Texas College and Texas State Technical College.

These MOUs, however, were not affected by the policy in any way because they were designed to align degree requirements and to make sure the courses students take in the colleges for their associate’s degree can transfer for a bachelor’s at UTRGV, Croyle said.

Of the legacy UTB students who came into UTRGV, about half did not feel any impact since they did not have any transfer work and about one-third of those had a GPA increase, she said.
Croyle made some clarifications about GPA at UTRGV:

–UTRGV does accept courses as long as it fulfills the degree requirement.

–For students who want to increase their GPA, their best option is to retake the course within the university, not at another, since UTRGV will not accept a grade that is brought from outside.

–For courses repeated at UTRGV, the university only accepts the most recent grade, not the highest.

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