Northwestern University’s handling of the “Itegrated” diploma embarrassment gets a Medill F from one of the school’s PR professors.
“They should have apologized profusely and immediately,” says Clarke L. Caywood, who teaches crisis management PR. He also says the misspelling should have been corrected before the diplomas were handed to students.
“Those diplomas could have been redone in an hour or two,” he claims. (Actually, it’s not clear if administrators knew about the misspelling when they handed the diplomas to grads.)
The mistake was all over social media and got national media attention. Medill probably could have avoided some of the negative press if it had answered a few questions on Saturday.
Medill grad Kit Fox was the first to let me know about the misspelling. Ten minutes later I sent this email to Northwestern spokesman Alan Cubbage: “Hi Alan, my readers have pointed out the misspelling on the Medill diplomas. Who is responsible for that? The school? An outsourced printing firm? Didn’t anyone at Medill notice it before Saturday?”
He didn’t respond. (“I was engaged in some other activities,” Cubbage told me today. When did Medill discover the error? I asked. “I don’t know.” Did Medill administrators see the diplomas before they were distributed? “I don’t know.”)
Finally, I got some answers from Northwestern registrar Jaci Casazza: The diplomas were printed by a company in Iowa and delivered to the registrar’s office last Thursday. Casazza says someone from Medill picked up that school’s batch on late Thursday or early Friday. (Graduation was on Saturday.) She doesn’t know when Medill administrators discovered the “Itegrated” problem. “They notified me on Sunday,” she says.
Cubbage, Casazza, and Caywood
Casazza adds that the error “is not Medill’s responsibility”; it’s the registrar’s office that’s at fault, she says.
Casazza says her office didn’t know how many honors diplomas to have printed until early last week – after the other diplomas went to press. She assumed the printer would use the same template – with the correct spelling of “Integrated” – for the honors diplomas. She was wrong.
Medill honors graduates were told Monday that they’ll soon get replacement diplomas from the printer.
* “Integrated” is misspelled on some Medill diplomas (jimromenesko.com)