Tennessee Ousts Grad Student Over Driving Conviction

The University of Tennessee is holding a 60-year-old graduate student in academic limbo over a reckless driving incident that occurred hundreds of miles away from campus.

suzanne-glenEven at 60 years old Suzanne Glen is a fighter. She fought through an agonizing childhood disease that resulted in the loss of her colon, divorce, the loss of both parents and being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a medical disorder that disables its sufferers with chronic joint and muscle pain.

Now she’s fighting to complete her master’s degree at the University of Tennessee. University officials want to indefinitely suspend her from the institution because of a reckless driving conviction last year while camping in Alabama.

Glen was slated to graduate May 14. She has continued her studies and expects to complete her courses April 30. But she already has lost an academic year for applying to colleges for her doctorate degree in social work because UT refused to release her course transcripts pending resolution of her disciplinary appeal.

Matthew M. Scoggins, UT assistant general counsel, told the administrative law judge hearing Glen’s appeal that UT wants to nullify Glen’s academics for the spring semester. “The university considers this a very serious matter,” Scoggins said of Glen’s reckless driving conviction.


Scoggins said Glen violated rule 8 of UT’s student conduct policy with her July 2009 drunken-driving arrest in Gulf Shores, Ala. Glen, on advice of an attorney, pleaded guilty to reckless driving. That conviction, Scoggins said, showed Glen’s alleged act “threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person,” as stated in rule 8 of the dozens of student conduct violations.

This is absurd beyond words.  Clearly, the academic handbook applies to actions on campus or those directly related to university activities.

How a state university thinks it has the authority to not only take away academic credits for a non-academic violation but suspend the student indefinitely is beyond me.  And holding her transcript hostage borders on criminal.

via Inside Higher Ed

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Boyd says:

    Power corrupts, and it appears these administrators believe they have absolute power over their students.

  2. Franklin says:

    Just when you think we don’t need any more laws, somebody does something incredibly stupid that makes you think, “that should be illegal.”

    Well, for my part, I’ll make the free market work and refuse to enroll at UT. That’ll show ’em!

  3. JKB says:

    So now to get a university degree you must submit 24/7 to the liberal overlords? It’s a place that offers instruction for a a fee, not a church, holy order or the Marines. But then I’ve never really understood the nostalgia for the old alma mater, the experience yes but the institution? Why any male alum or student would have anything to do with Duke is beyond me. Now UT is entering the fray.

    What is the moral of this story? Do not recreate with people from school. Do not participate in extracurricular activities. Keep your head down, get your piece of paper, never look back and throw away all that alumni junk mail.

    Still I wonder if much of her travails are due to the program she is in, social work? Being as old as she is, she probably can’t be fully indoctrinated, which would upset some “leaders”.

  4. Alex Knapp says:

    A lot of colleges have Honor Codes that students have to sign that basically says that any misconduct committed while a student can threaten your academic standing. Is UT one of those schools?

  5. Steve Plunk says:

    I wonder if a tenured professor would be fired for such an offense?

    Stories such as these continue to reinforce my belief that the higher education system is in dire need of an overhaul. Tenure should go, administrators should go, speech codes and honor codes don’t work. Athletics is increasingly undermining education. College finances are absolutely stupid. When will the old guard wake up and see it is in need of change?

  6. 11B40 says:


    I seem have two takes on this article.

    1) This article seems to follow in your series of higher education institutions telling their subordinates who can speak to them, with whom they can have sexual relations and now, where they can drunk drive. It would seem that “We own you” would not be an inaccurate attitude descriptor.

    2) Somehow, this woman’s age and graduate student status make me think what are the economics of this situation. A 60 year old student who intends to continue to pursue more education may be an admirable thing but it also causes tremors in the area of my wallet. In delineating this student’s tribulations, I can’t help but keep a weather eye out for rampant welfare statism. What is the assumed benefit to society from this investment?

  7. floyd says:

    “What is the assumed benefit to society from this investment?”
    So… you went to school and took a job solely because of the benefit to society it would provide? Altruism gone wild,prevarication, or just plain delusional?
    Besides;I see Stevens is stepping down from his job at the age of 90… Suzanne could be enhancing another 30 years of public service![if you don’t factor in Obamacare]LOL

  8. mattt says:

    I would be extremely surprised if this story includes all the relevant facts.

  9. mattt says:

    To expand on my previous…..My purely anecdotal experience leads me to weigh very carefully extraordinary claims made by anyone who claims to suffer from fibromyalgia. Anyone who is as skeptical of homeopathy as Mr. Joyner should consider that (from the wiki): “Many members of the medical community do not consider fibromyalgia a disease because of a lack of abnormalities on physical examination.”

    Second, even before I read the story, that look on her face made me think: “professional victim.” I have some experience with the type.

    Maybe I’m wrong, and busy college administrators really did take extra time out of their day to screw this woman over for no good reason.

  10. 11B40 says:


    As opposed to a “professional victim”, I would call her a “Major League victim”. This article is more of a pleading than a report. Here’s this 60 year old orphan (loss of both parents), who has survived childhood health problems (for about 50 years), and suffers from a form of fibromyalgia (that doesn’t interfere with her drinking, driving or camping out).

    The University certainly has an interest in the behavior of the people associated with it. Court is the place to resolve the issue if one disagrees. (I wonder what her legal fees are and how they’re being paid?)

    Whoever wrote this article is in need of some serious editorial supervision. The attempt to emotionalize the situation by providing a litany of this woman’s “suffering,” which has no real bearing on the actual issue, makes the article pure advocacy journalism.