ATHENS, Ohio (June 9, 2006) -- Decisive action and education to prevent future incidents were the major recommendations of Gary Pavela when he visited Ohio University this week to offer guidance and to conduct a public forum on academic integrity. The visit followed the discovery of plagiarism in master's theses completed in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the Fritz J. and Dolores Russ College of Engineering and Technology.
Pavela, director of judicial programs and student ethical development at the University of Maryland, advised Ohio University leaders on best practices and how to deal with the cases of academic dishonesty. He also spoke on the subject to a group of more than 100 faculty, students, administrators and community members.
Provost Kathy Krendl noted that Pavela's experience in consulting with leading universities nationwide on academic honesty and related issues came through in the insight he had offered. "He shared several recommendations that we will use in our next steps in this process," she said. "Academic honesty requires that we adhere to the highest standards of integrity, which are integral to the core mission of this university. Because of that, we are committing the dedicated attention and thought necessary to this ethically important topic."
Pavela emphasized that the university, as a community, should proceed now in such a way as to be able to look back in the future and satisfy itself that it had done these things: made academic integrity a core value and persisted in ranking it as such, stood for fairness and due process, addressed the problem with as much openness and transparency as the law allows and used this experience as an opportunity to address the effectiveness of teaching.
"This is an opportunity to engage in self-examination. It's an opportunity to think about pedagogy," Pavela said.
He also said it is necessary to get faculty and students involved and hold them to a high standard. Faculty Senate Chair Phyllis Bernt supports this idea. According to Bernt, the Ohio University Faculty Handbook emphasizes the duty of faculty, as educators, to hold themselves and students to the highest ethical standards in academic conduct. "Faculty Senate is committed to working with faculty, students and administrators across campus to assure that dedication to academic integrity is central to our culture," she said.
Last week Krendl announced that a universitywide committee is being created to study the issue of plagiarism. It will determine best practices that can be adopted to promote academic honesty across the university and will consider ideas such as implementing a modified honor code that engages students in the hearing process and training faculty members to help them learn more about preventing academic dishonesty.
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