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Judge steps out of degree lawsuit

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley has disqualified herself from hearing a lawsuit filed over a 6-year-old degree scandal at West Virginia University, citing a federal statute that requires judges to step aside if their impartiality could be questioned.

The order entered Tuesday doesn't offer specifics, but Keeley is a past member of the WVU Board of Advisors, the predecessor to today's Board of Governors. She also has served on the WVU Alumni Association's board of directors and on the College of Law's visiting committee.

Judge John Preston Bailey will hear the case brought by former business school dean Stephen Sears and former associate dean Cyril Logar. They say WVU has ignored an academic integrity policy requiring "diligent efforts'' to restore the reputations of people cleared of misconduct.

The lawsuit stems from a 2007 decision to award Heather Bresch an executive master of business administration degree that she hadn't earned.

Bresch is the chief executive officer of Pennsylvania-based Mylan Inc. and the daughter of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who was governor at the time. She also was a friend of then-WVU President Mike Garrison, who ultimately resigned over the scandal.

Last summer, Special Academic Integrity Officer Nigel Clark said there would be no further action against anyone involved in altering transcripts, creating grades and awarding Bresch the degree.

But Sears and Logar say WVU is ignoring an academic integrity policy that requires it to "undertake diligent efforts'' to restore the reputations of people cleared of misconduct. They're now alleging breach of contract and demanding damages.

WVU has said it won't comment on pending litigation.


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