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Diplomas require reprint

By Adam Giffi
On January 24, 2011

  • Many December graduates received misspelled diplomas, which have been reprinted and resent. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Perhaps one of the biggest fears any college student could have is that their diploma will be stripped away when they finally get their hands on it.

Miami University students who graduated in December 2010 are facing just this reality, if only temporarily.

Jan. 13, graduates of the December 2010 commencement ceremony were informed via e-mail from David Sauter, university registrar, they would need to return their diploma immediately upon its arrival.

The reason for this was a spelling error in the date of the diploma. The word "thousand" was instead written "thousnad."

Sauter said the error was spotted after it was too late.

"It was a graduate whose parent actually works in the CAB (Campus Avenue) Building," Sauter said. "When the student received it, the parent actually brought it back in to show us because it's our job to send them out."

While all 567 diplomas were originally misprinted, due to the mailing system employed not every December graduate received a misprinted diploma.

According to Sauter, 120 of the faulty documents were sent to graduates, all of which are in the process of being replaced.

"Typically what will happen is that there will be mass mailings going out, because it's still an old-fashioned system, in different batches," Sauter said. "It was as we were sending the first batch out, that's when we were notified and we went ‘oh my gosh' and were able to stop the rest from going out."

Cathy McVey, senior director of strategic communications and planning, said the physical typing of the error was the fault of the print services center in the Information Technology Services (ITS) department.

McVey said the diplomas are made in a database and therefore the only part that is adjusted regularly is the date. She said the office's mistake was merely a slip of the finger when updating the template. 

"It was just a simple typo, and the registrar's office caught it when they were packaging and mailing them," McVey said.

Sauter said there is no professional hostility over the error and efforts are being made to ensure it doesn't happen again.  

"Of course print services were very apologetic and they will be looking at their process to figure out how to prevent that from happening," Sauter said. "What I have asked of them, very simply, is that they let our department in on the proofreading process so that there are more eyes available to catch these things."

According to Sauter, his e-mail to the graduates specifying that they send their original diploma back in before they receive a corrected one was due to standard operating procedure.

Students were instructed to mark their unopened diplomas with "return to sender" to avoid incurring a fee.

"We don't want a wrong diploma sitting out there with Miami's name on it," Sauter said. "That's kind of embarrassing."

According to McVey, the total cost for paper and reprinting was less than $40.

McVey said in the 20 years she has worked at Miami, this is the first time any error has been made on diplomas that she is aware of. She also said ITS has not received very much negative feedback and suspects that most are content with allowing the office to sort things out.

"I think most people understand that mistakes get made and that we're working to fix them," McVey said. "That's what they want to know, that they're going to have a diploma that's correct, and they will."

One December graduate, Elizabeth Gleason, did not feel so laid back about the error.

"I was really angry, actually," Gleason said. "I still am. It came in the mail the day of the e-mail, and I sent it back the next day, and it still hasn't come yet."

Gleason explained the reasoning behind her anger.

"This is something that is so important that you wouldn't think it would get overlooked," Gleason said. "It wasn't an inconvenience to me, but I didn't get the sense that they even took the situation seriously. This is something that just shouldn't have happened."

According to McVey, the corrected diplomas were sent to the president's office Jan. 10 and she suspects they are likely on their way to residences now.

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