Committee to analyze cases of academic fraud

by Thomas Douty

The next step in the process of renewing the academic integrity of the University is to analyze the individual cases of fraud listed in the Nov. 19 investigative report.
The University set up a four-member faculty committee last week to determine which cases were academic fraud. The group will also investigate five faculty members suspected of showing favoritism to student-athletes.
Vice Provost Craig Swan said some of the reported incidents might violate NCAA rules, but don’t constitute academic fraud.
The provost office chose retired mechanical engineering professor Warren Ibele to head up the committee because of his widespread respect in the University community, Swan said.
Ibele, a former dean of the Graduate School, retired from the University last spring after 52 years as a faculty member. Swan said the provost’s office wanted a leader who “loved the institute so much that they would accept this responsibility.”
“If I have an opportunity, as small as it might be, to repay some of the many happy years I’ve spent there, then I’m happy to do it,” Ibele said.
But analyzing possibly hundreds of cases of academic misconduct will not be a small task.
Ibele said he does not know how long the review process will take, but expects to receive a formal letter from the provost office outlining a deadline for the investigation.
Although Swan said the process is a groundbreaking endeavor, Ibele has planned to work from the University’s student and faculty conduct codes.
Because each college has its own set of academic-fraud guidelines, the committee will oversee the process and direct the material to the proper college or academic department.
The possible penalties for faculty members imposed by individual colleges might range from a letter of reprimand to dismissal, but dismissal would only come from a severe offense, Swan said.
Marcia Eaton, philosophy professor; Rodney Smith, associate professor of applied economics; and Cathrine Wambach, an associate professor in General College, were also appointed to the committee.
“I think it’s really important that the University gets its act together and clears its name as soon as possible,” Eaton said.

Thomas Douty welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3222.