Friday, October 16, 2009

Ohio University and Its Graduates Can't Be Trusted

Someone who calls him/herself "Caveat Emptor" left a very poignant comment to my earlier post about blatant plagiarism in an Ohio University Physics doctoral dissertation that was approved by the professor appointed as the Chair of the Academic Honesty Hearing Committee. I am hoping that the comment is read by many people, so I am re-posting it here.

"Caveat Emptor said...
This sort of contagion is just what you’d expect with rewrites, which seems to be Ohio University’s blanket approach to dealing with essentially all of its plagiarists (the number of known or suspected plagiarists is now well over fifty and still climbing but only one degree has been revoked since OU’s plagiarism scandal went public in 2005).It will eventually occur to other universities that they can protect themselves from being contaminated with OU plagiarists by simply (and tacitly) not hiring any OU Ph.D.s onto their faculties and not admitting any OU masters degree holders into their doctoral programs. After all, why should any faculty search committee (or graduate admissions committee) needlessly risk the possibility of hiring (or admitting) a plagiarist from OU when there are plenty of reputable candidates available from better schools? And whenever this happens, it will be an unspoken “plagiarism tax” unfairly borne by all honest OU alumni.So eventually the reputation and fortunes of all OU graduate degree holders will suffer as will the reputations of those schools that inadvertently hire/admit OU plagiarists because they aren’t vigilant (because of their well-intended but misplaced trust in the academic integrity of OU). In concert with all this, graduate enrollment at OU will likely fall and/or the quality of its graduate student intake will worsen and this will fuel retrenchment in graduate study there.The most effective and direct way to disrupt this pernicious hiring/admissions spiral is for OU to revoke the degrees it has mistakenly awarded. But so long as OU can keep its plagiarism problem quiet, it can continue to surreptitiously propagate its “repaired” (rewritten) ersatz (inferior) masters and Ph.D. degree graduates into higher education. The longer this weary and disturbing hiring/admissions syndrome continues, the more easily the perception of OU as a diploma mill will come to mind. And as OU’s plagiarists infect other universities, plagiarism will likely expand into a repeating cycle of pollution beyond OU.At the end of the day, as a result of OU’s misguided plagiarism rewrite approach to dealing with its plagiarists, the biggest loser will be OU itself and the rest of higher education will be diminished as well."

Caveat Emptor very nicely explains many of the issues that arise when university leaders start creating exceptions to the most basic rules of academia. Eventually more and more people are going to realize that Ohio University will award advanced graduate degrees to anyone, even blatant cheaters. Consequently, the value and credibility of an honest degree continues to diminish, and no one will know who they can trust. Why would a university do this? Why haven't more alumni and professors expressed outrage? Are they hiding something too? This is a huge issue. I'm going to keep trying to get answers.

Thank you Caveat Emptor for assessing the problems here with eloquence.


Post Ghost said...

I agree with you that there hasn't been nearly enough outrage. Pretty suspicious, isn’t it? And even more so now that you’re finding significant plagiarism in disciplines other than mechanical engineering.

The only exceptions seem to have been the campus newspaper’s articles and editorials and Professor Bloemer, coauthor of the Meyer-Bloemer report. But he was forsaken by the rest of the campus through its silence and lack of enthusiasm for the report. And it’s utterly deplorable that the ingrate-provost that had commissioned his report insulted him (under oath) at the Mehta trial (see below). He had the courage and conviction to stand up to the administration instead of being their lackey by writing what they wanted, the way they wanted it. Bravo, Professor Bloemer!

When OU’s central administration finally accepted the fact that the engineering college was incapable of policing itself, the Post (OU’s campus newspaper) wrote about it on May 2, 2008:

Plagiarism: College seeks out external reviewers

There were reader comments published in the online edition of this article but they are no longer archived online. Here’s one of them that, among other things, rightly praised Professor Bloemer and condemned the shabby treatment he received.


“So … now that the foxes have admitted that their guarding of the hen house the past four years smells bad, someone outside the engineering college, but still internal to Ohio University, will be asked to do what the university has repeatedly demonstrated that it is too corrupt to do.

Will that someone suffer a similar fate as that of Professor Bloemer, the only professor at OU with the guts to speak up forthrightly and forcefully in defending the university against plagiarism? For his well intended and honest service to OU, he was stabbed in the back at the Mehta trial.

When the Meyer-Bloemer report was released two years ago, much more should have been done than is being done now. But it wasn’t so further damage to OU’s reputation continued needlessly for another two years.

Provost Krendl should’ve fired engineering dean Irwin two years ago. When she didn’t, President McDavis should’ve fired both Irwin and Krendl. When he didn’t, OU’s Board of Trustees should’ve fired … well, that’s what’s really become the biggest problem since the plagiarism scandal was discovered: OU’s entire administrative chain of command is so invested in its past mistakes for so long now that it shouldn’t be entrusted with resolving the scandal in the future. Incompetent leadership gridlock at OU has become an integral part of the scandal itself.

The opportunity for better leadership was fumbled two years ago when OU didn’t clean house. New leadership with better ideas and fresh approaches – that’s what was needed two years ago and that’s what’s still needed now.

Krendl questioned about ‘kiss of death’ report”


Note: The link at the bottom of the comment above is to another article (about the Mehta trial) and is broken; but this one isn’t:

Anonymous said...

Epilogue: Krendl is now the president of Otterbein College. Go figure!

write term paper said...

In this era of web 2.0, we easily get nice & updated information for research purposes... I'd definitely appreciate the work of the said blog owner... Thanks!

write term papers-Term Paper Samples said...

Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

Anonymous said...

You know as an OU graduate who rarely attended anything but the regional campuses, I do not know, nor can I relate to what you are talking about.

Thanks for NOTHING for devaluing all MY hard work and my degrees, as well as those of my classmates who actually EARNED our degrees.

Why don't you work on why George Bush received a degree from Harvard and Yale, yet did not know a damn thing.

Brian Manhire said...

Fuzzy definitions of intellectual property?