By Katie Quaranta
Faculty and students in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology signed the college's first honor code Friday as part of ongoing efforts to promote a culture of academic honesty at the university.
Developed by the college's student and faculty honor councils, the code includes statements of student and faculty responsibility as well as an honor pledge: "We members of the Russ College pledge to act with integrity and expect the same from each other."
Valerie Young, chair of the faculty honor council and associate professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, sees great value in the honor code, particularly as a way to focus the conversation regarding academic integrity.
"We're always bringing in new faculty, staff … (and) students, and they may not have heard this conversation before," she said. "The most important thing to us was that it be a statement of ideals … stating what we believe and what we aspire to on a daily basis."
Jim Wyllie, chair of the student academic honor council and a graduate student in computer science, agreed that the recent Russ College efforts will help future students understand the importance of academic honesty and the serious consequences of violating the code.
Prior to officially signing the honor code along with members of both honor councils, Russ College Dean Dennis Irwin told the assembled crowd that he is proud of the engineering students, faculty and staff for their dedication to encouraging scholarship and integrity.
"Your signature indicates your commitment to academic honesty in the Russ College," he said.
The code is among several academic honesty initiatives the college undertook in response to allegations of plagiarism in a number of engineering and technology theses and dissertations. The college has formed the student and faculty honor councils, developed an academic integrity Web site and regularly hosts faculty workshops related to academic honesty as well as a faculty brownbag series on writing excellence. The college also began using TurnItIn software to screen all new theses at both the draft and final stages, instituted a required course in technical writing for graduate students and is developing graduate courses on teaching engineering.