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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

University of Rhode Island Statement

Media Contact: Linda A. Acciardo, 401-874-2116

February 25, 2012

The University admitted a student through its Performance Based Admission Program (PBA) at the College of Continuing Education in Providence for this spring semester. The student applied for housing on campus and was given a room in one of our residence halls.

The unique circumstances surrounding this admission were the subject of an internal University review over the past two weeks.

The University was not aware that the student had a criminal background because the question was never asked in the PBA admission process, an omission that has been corrected. The PBA process recognizes that non-traditional students do not possess recent evidence of academic work, but they may have the potential to successfully complete college-level work.

When students are applying through the Office of Undergraduate Admission on the Kingston campus, they are asked about any disciplinary history and criminal record. Such instances of those applying with criminal records are rare and are addressed on a case-by-case basis by the Dean of Admission and the Vice President for Student Affairs.

The student’s criminal record includes a felony conviction of armed robbery. He served an eight-month prison sentence last year and was on parole as of September 2012. The student, Malcolm Jones, is the son of Carnell Jones, URI‘s new director of enrollment services.

URI’s review concluded that Carnell Jones did not influence the admission process, nor did he participate in seeking on-campus housing for his son.

Had the University been aware of the criminal background, the student would not have been assigned to an on campus residence hall. The student lived on campus from January 29 - February 2. Upon learning of his prior convictions, the University took immediate action. He was asked to move out of the residence hall and he did so immediately, and willingly.

Given the student’s criminal background, he would not have been admitted through the University Undergraduate Admission process in Kingston.

In addition, Carnell Jones was eligible for a tuition waiver and was granted one for his son for the spring semester. This case has brought to light a confusing question on the tuition waiver application regarding dependency eligibility. As a result of the confusion, Carnell Jones withdrew the tuition waiver for his son.

"Because of lack of clarity of the program's policy with regard to the IRS regulations and the specifics of my situation, I decided, as a father, that it was in the best interest of my family to withdraw my application to participate in the waiver benefit program,” said Carnell Jones. “ I believe this was the responsible course of action to take and regret that this incident has become a source of distraction for my colleagues and the university community.”

The University has some accountability in how this enrollment was handled and the institution has already taken a series of actions to address the issues that were raised during this process.

1. The omission of a question regarding criminal history in the PBA program came to light as a result of this review and was immediately addressed.
2. We already have a clear process in place, but are crafting a written policy to govern students with a criminal history living in the residence halls.
3. The lack of clarity on the tuition waver form regarding dependency eligibility is a system-wide issue that needs to be addressed as part of the broader review of tuition waivers at the three public institutions.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald H. DeHayes said, “The University's application process will now require students who apply to CCE to indicate whether they have been convicted of a misdemeanor, felony or other crime, which will bring consistency to the process already in place for Undergraduate Admission in Kingston. It was an important step that was omitted from the CCE admission application process.

"We have dedicated staff who work diligently to deliver the academic, residential and administrative functions of the University at the highest level possible. We also readily acknowledge when mistakes are made and take immediate corrective action to address them."

Carnell Jones also made the following statement:
“In my profession, I have witnessed many young men and women turn their lives around with the right support in the right environment. The University has resources that will help to guide my son and other students here who need that helping hand. My son is a bright, young man with a curious nature and a big heart, and I love him very much. He clearly needs direction, and my hope is that he seizes this opportunity at URI to make a fresh start. He has served his time and paid his debt. I believe that this community would embrace any young man who is trying to better himself.”