A special committee established by President Bill Chace will spend the
remainder of 200102 reviewing academic integrity on campus and defining
ways to bring the issue to the forefront of University culture.
With the advent of the Internet, many American universities have taken
a fresh look at academic honesty and the challenges it faces. The web
has given rise to a cottage industry of dishonesty, with websites offering
prewritten term papers to any student willing to punch in a credit-card
number. Even before the web took off, the late 80s and early 90s
witnessed a growth around college campuses of small businesses selling
notes to various, usually survey-level, classes.
This came up some time ago in a series of conversations with [former
Emory College dean] Steve Sanderson, [former provost] Rebecca Chopp, [interim
college Dean] Bobby Paul and other faculty members who would talk to me
about it, Chace said. And there have been several readings
over the years in The Chronicle of Higher Education about other campuses
that had come to a state of concern that plagiarism, cheating and a general
lack of academic honor are now a problem for American universities.
Are they a problem for Emory? Thats what this committee hopes to
find out, Chace said. The group is made up of 25 faculty, administrators
and students, with three co-chairs: Chace, Senior Vice President for Campus
Life John Ford and James Fowler, Candler Professor of Theology and Human
Development and director of the Center for Ethics.
In a report to the University Senate on Oct. 30, Chace said the committee
will assess the current processes involved in communicating and enforcing
the existing Honor Code, determine the extent of student and faculty input
into the judicial process, and survey the attitudes of teachers and students
with respect to cheating.
According to Associate Dean Sally Wolff King, the Emory College Honor
Council has heard 486 cases in the last 10 years, 287 of which ultimately
resulted in a finding of guilty, accompanied by sanctions. Last spring
the council heard 40 cases, 28 of which ended with guilty verdicts, eight
still pending. Sanctions ranged mostly from zero grades on the works in
question to written reprimands, failing course grades or suspensions of
up to one year.
I dont think were in a state of crisis or alarm, but
right now we are not doing a lot to orient our students to the honor program,
said Fowler, who added that he receives mixed answers to the
question of whether Emory has a problem with academic dishonesty.
Ford, who arrived on campus in January from Cornell University, said current
processes need to be examined. Right now, the Honor Code is enforced by
the individual schools, while the Campus Code of Conduct falls under the
jurisdiction of Campus Life.
Thats another question some people have raised: What should
the relationship [between those two processes] be? Ford said. Some
people feel they are different facets of the same issue. Behavior is related
in some ways to honesty, academically.
To accomplish its goals, the committee will use several tools: administrative
interviews and policy briefings to determine existing structures; focus-group
conversations with students and faculty; statistics and case histories
of hearings conducted under both the Honor Code and the Code of Conduct;
and comparative studies with other universities around the country.
Emory will have plenty of help in its efforts. For example, the Center
for Academic Integrity (www.academicintegrity.org)
is a 9-year-old organization currently run out of Duke Universitys
Kenan Center for Ethics. The center is a consortium of more than 225 institutions
(including Emory) to share research and experiences regarding academic
Chace said he would like to see some tangible results from the committee
by the end of next semester. I dont know how long it will
go, he said, but were going to work hard all year.