A teaching moment now…a learning lesson then

Each semester, as I wrap up another term and file final grades, I remind myself of one of my most important learning moments from when I was a doctoral student.

Ohio University was still on the quarter system when I was earning my PhD there. I dutifully submitted my grades at the end of a particular quarter…and within minutes the emails started to roll in.

The messages were the same: I should have a higher final grade.

Confident I had done everything correctly, I notified the students that I’d double check what I had entered into the grade system.


One final grade was wrong. No, two…three…five…20.

Trying to slow down my now 1,000-beats-a-minute heart rate, I searched for the mistake.

And there it was.

The promised bonus points.

I had forgotten to add them into the grade calculation.

With that heart still racing, I walked upstairs to the director’s office.

“Got a minute?” I asked.

“Sure,” Dr. Michael Bugeja said.

“Um, you’re about to get 20 grade change forms from me and I feel like an absolute idiot and I know what I did but I…”

“Anthony,” he said. And then he smiled. And if you know Michael, then you know he owns one of the biggest smiles in the world.

“You submitted a few incorrect grades, you know why, and you’re fixing it,” he continued. “No problem. If you had tried to hide your mistake, that [with index finger raised for emphasis] would have been a problem!

You send them my way. I’ll sign them. Nothing to worry about.”

We laughed. I walked out, yes, still embarrassed.

Fast forward a couple decades…

I received multiple grade change requests yesterday from one of my part-time faculty. Somewhat mortified by what had taken place, his/her messages indicated real embarrassment at what had happened, and why.

So, yes, I relayed a story about a doctoral student from two decades ago.

The adjunct replied with a “thank you, I feel much better now.”

You taught me something very valuable that day, Dr. Bugeja. Very valuable, indeed!

NEWSDAY: Five Long Island universities layoff or furlough nearly 300 staff

The Newsday report adds to the litany of job losses or furloughs taking place all across the U.S. higher education landscape.

Five Long Island higher education institutions laid off or furloughed almost 300 employees combined as a strategy to mitigate budget shortfalls set off by the coronavirus pandemic, despite millions in funding trickling in from the federal stimulus package.

The trend is likely to continue into the fall as universities face an unprecedented financial crisis, education experts and college leaders said.

It appears staff, not faculty, were the ones let go on these campuses.