EMU suspends relationship with company that sent inaccurate email to thousands of students
Eastern Michigan University's academic affairs office has suspended its relationship with third-party communications provider GradesFirst and plans to revise its dismissal practices after thousands of students received unwarranted dismissal emails.
Chris Asadian | AnnArbor.com
Only 133 students were supposed to have received the emails.
EMU pays GradesFirst, an Alabama-based software and communications company, $15,000 annually to handle communications about students' academic standing.
Although students were later emailed notifications that the dismissal notices were a mistake, the initial emails confused and aggravated many students who were unsure of their standing with the school.
"The snafu by GradesFirst should not have happened," EMU Provost Kim Schatzel wrote in a May 15 email to faculty, acknowledging that "the academic business services side of Eastern, including advising, degree audit, application management, is not where it should be from a process/technology perspective."
In an interview earlier this year, Schatzel told Annarbor.com that she wanted to streamline the school's advising system and admitted that it has been a "concern for some of our students."
In her May 15 email Schatzel wrote that "effective immediately academic affairs will not use GradesFirst to communicate academic status to students" and that the school "is suspending the use of GradesFirst" alert systems "pending further review."
She explained that students will now be notified of their status by the registrar's office, "where it more typically resides in universities."
GradesFirst also works with the EMU athletic department to convey the academic standing of athletes to coaches and students. That existing relationship "will remain in place," according to EMU spokesperson Geoff Larcom. "That has worked well for the athletic department," Larcom said.
Additionally, Schatzel promised to "review all third-party software agreements/licenses to ensure full compliance with all university policies/procedures" and "assess if these third-party arrangements provide the best solutions in support of our students and our university."
EMU Director of Communications Walter Kraft told AnnArbor.com last week that the school was reassessing its dismissal methods but declined to say whether or not the school would continue using GradesFirst as a provider. He said the school fielded several complaints from students and parents regarding the false dismissal notices.
According to Schatzel other universities, including Ohio State University and Louisiana State University, use GradesFirst for communication services.