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USM employees placed on leave pending review of missing computers

HATTIESBURG — University of Southern Mississippi officials are reviewing possible errors in the implementation of the Southern Miss U-Tab pilot program.

Three Southern Miss employees have been placed on administrative leave pending a completion of the review: chief information officer Homer Coffman, director of procurement and contract services Mike Herndon and Dr. Bob Lyman, who resigned his position as provost last Wednesday but remains a member of the faculty.

Approximately 700 Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 devices were distributed as part of the U-Tab pilot program to selected students, faculty and staff in an effort to transform the educational experience by providing mobile access to courses and class content.

The U-Tab pilot program was announced in August, and has been highly successful, according to university officials. Students selected for the program agreed to take part in surveys and other measures necessary to determine the educational effectiveness of these devices.

Areas of concern include the failure to properly account for the distribution of the tablets as property of the State of Mississippi and possible violations of IHL policies regarding contract review and state bid requirements.

Last Friday, program participants were asked to present their tablets for proper tagging as State of Mississippi property.

University officials apologized for any inconvenience and the failure to clearly communicate the terms of the program. Students were initially led to believe they owned the tablets upon receipt.

David Sliman, director of technology at Southern Miss Gulf Coast, will act as CIO while Coffman is on leave. Vice president for research, Dr. Denis Wiesenburg, is taking on the additional role of provost. An acting replacement for Herndon has not been named.

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