University’s tablet program under review after tech officials put on leave

Students and faculty were asked to present their tablets for proper tagging Nov. 18.

Three employees at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) have been placed on administrative leave while officials review possible errors in the implementation of a pilot program that provided tablet computers to students in an honors program.

The university said Nov. 18 that Homer Coffman, chief information officer; Mike Herndon, director of procurement and contract services, and Dr. Bob Lyman, who resigned his position as provost on Nov. 16 but remains a member of the faculty, each was placed on leave.

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

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The laptop project was announced in August.

University officials said the program is under review for failure to properly account for the distribution of the tablets as property of the State of Mississippi and possible violations of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning policies regarding contract review and state bid requirements.

Participants were asked to present their tablets for proper tagging Nov. 18.

Officials apologized for the inconvenience and failure to clearly communicate the terms of the program. Students apparently were initially led to believe they owned the devices upon receipt, officials said.