Academic Integrity Committee

Meeting Minutes

April 17, 2009


The meeting came to order at 3:05pm.


Present were Robert Kirkman (chair), Tom Michaels, Carol Senf, Sam Vojdani, and Chris Schmidt.


1. Welcome to Chris Schmidt


The committee welcomed Chris Schmidt, the new Director of the Office of Student Integrity, to his first meeting with the committee.


2. Approval of Minutes


Minutes from the meeting of September 19, 2008 were approved by acclamation.


3. News from OSI


Schmidt reported and the committee discussed the current status of OSI, in the wake of recent turnover in personnel and with further changes pending.


In short, a search for an Assistant Director is underway. However, in light of budget constraints, the position is to be funded in part by eliminating the last remaining Judicial Coordinator position.


As of July 1, at the very latest, the Office of Student Integrity will consist of a Director, Assistant Director, and an administrative assistant . . . and there is some possibility the administrative assistant will leave as well.


The long-term plan is to re-establish the Judicial Coordinator position at a higher level when the funds become available. 


OSI is responsible for processing judicial as well as academic cases. Under the revised code of conduct, Judicial Coordinators are to make decisions in all low-level academic cases.


Kirkman suggested that there are only two courses of action available: either revise the Code of Conduct or fund and support OSI to a level adequate to handle its case load under the existing Code of Conduct.  Kirkman noted that there is unlikely to be much support among faculty for changing the Code of Conduct, given that it was revised so recently.


Schmidt offered to provide details of OSI’s current case load and the time commitment it entails.  Kirkman agreed to follow up with the Executive Board on the 2008 report of the Ad Hoc Academic Integrity Process Committee, which cited the need to support OSI.


Kirkman also noted that the turnover in OSI is the main reason plans from last year for faculty outreach are on hold: this is not the moment to encourage more faculty to participate in the process.


4. Discussion of Academic Integrity Student Survey Report


The committee discussed the results of the Academic Integrity Student Survey Report released (in a limited way) by the Office of Assessment in January 2009.  It was observed that the numbers are predictably shocking.  Some doubts arose regarding the survey methodology, particularly the sampling method: The response rate was respectable, but how was the initial population selected?  What else is known about those who responded, including their past history with the integrity process? 


Doubts also emerged about the wording of some questions, including an inaccuracy regarding “the right to have allegations considered by the Honor Committee.”  Under the revised Code of Conduct, decisions in low-level cases are made only by judicial coordinators in OSI, or by faculty through the faculty conference option; students involved in such cases do not have the right to an Honor Committee hearing. 


The last words of the report are also troubling, noting that the “data” are “within established norms” . . . which suggests there is such a thing as a “normal” level of cheating.


5. Update on Ethics Seminar


Vojdani noted that an effort is underway to revise the ethics seminar, which serves as the educational portion of the sanction for academic integrity.  The idea is that the original seminar was very general; the revised seminar will be divided between general considerations about integrity and practical tools for maintaining integrity.


Kirkman requested to be included in discussions aimed at revising the seminar, as he was on the committee that created it in 2003.