updated 4/27/2008 11:21:02 PM ET 2008-04-28T03:21:02

The provost of West Virginia University said Sunday he was resigning after being criticized for his handling of a master's degree that was improperly awarded to the governor's daughter.

In a memo sent Sunday to the deans who report to him, Provost Gerald Lang said an independent report on the controversy convinced him to step down after 32 years of involvement with the Morgantown university.

"I am very sorry that my one action in ratifying a dean's decision in a single situation has had a negative impact on the institution," Lang wrote. "I love this place and would never intentionally take an action that would reflect negatively upon it."

The memo will be distributed campus-wide on Monday, according to WVU spokeswoman Amy Neil. The university will have no comment until then, she said.

In the memo, Lang said his resignation will become effective on June 30.

"I hope this decision will begin the healing process and focus attention onto the future," he said.

Woman given degree she didn't earn
Last week, a five-member independent panel led by two WVU faculty members issued a report saying high-ranking academic officers and administration officials showed "seriously flawed" judgment last fall in revising the academic records of Mylan Inc. executive Heather Bresch, who is Gov. Joe Manchin's daughter. She was awarded a degree as an executive master of business administration she had not earned.

Manchin wasn't commenting on Lang's resignation, spokeswoman Lara Ramsburg said Sunday.

"We leave those issues to WVU," she said.

The Associated Press also sent an e-mail message Sunday to Bresch, who did not respond.

The administrators who awarded the degree lacked documentation to prove her claims that she had finished her final semester with work experience credits, relying too heavily on verbal assertions and caving to political pressure — whether real or perceived, the panel said.

The harshest words fell on Lang, the school's chief academic officer, and R. Stephen Sears, dean of the College of Business and Economics, who the report said "should have treated Ms. Bresch like they would or should have treated any other student."

Calls for resignations
In the days after the report's release, calls on top officials to resign came from within the university and from around the state. The Charleston Gazette, the state's largest newspaper, said resignations were necessary, and some members of the WVU faculty said Lang, Sears and WVU President Mike Garrison should resign.

Lang has been provost for 13 years, one of the university's highest-paying and most demanding jobs. In 2007, his total compensation was $243,448, according to the state auditor's office.

Before he was provost, he spent nine years as dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and was an assistant dean and faculty member prior to that appointment.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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