Monday, March 22, 2010

Provost's Response

Earlier this month, Ohio University's General Councel, Mr. Biancamano, wrote to me on behalf of the provost, Dr. Benoit, in response to my January 15, 2010 letter. You can read the response here.

First let me say that it is pathetic that Ohio University's Provost has to defer to a lawyer to address my very simple letter requesting that Ohio University leaders show some respect for the university. I realize that Dr. Benoit inherited this mess, but I am certain that she is a very intelligent woman who is capable of addressing the concerns of an Ohio University alumnus. I guess the concepts of honesty, ethics, consistency, morals, etc. is not something Dr. Benoit wants to handle by herself. Nevertheless, I will assume that Dr. Benoit concurs with Mr. Biancamano's statements which are wrong.

Let's start with the so-called "re-writes" that I claim to be in violation of Ohio University's re-write policy as well as the Statement on Professional Ethics. Mr. Biancamano and Dr. Benoit state that they disagree with me, but they offer no explanation. The only conclusion I can draw is that Dr. Benoit has very low standards, and theses with plagiarism and missing chapters are acceptable to her. Eventually, someone at Ohio University will have to act on the evidence of plagiarism in Mr. Adlakha's re-write which I reported to legal affairs back in 2007. Their failure to act is precisely what convinced the accreditors to get involved back in 2006.

Evidence to support my claim of a violation of the re-write policy includes the following relevant statement made by Ohio University's former director of legal affairs, John Burns, in the letter he sent to cheating students back in 2006. He wrote: "Ohio University's intention/agenda in this matter is to primarily seek a resolution that respects and reflects Ohio University's commitment to both academic standards and academic honesty."

No matter how subjective Mr. Burns statement is, I do not think any reasonable person would argue that a thesis with plagiarism or a thesis with two missing chapters "reflects and respects a commitment to academic standards." In fact, Mr. Adlakha's and Mr. Ghanta's re-writes are in direct contradiction, and they represent a lowering of standards beyond any one's imagination.

Mr. Burns also wrote the following regarding the re-write requirements: "the Advisor would confirm to the Hearing Board that you have fully complied with this [re-write] option." But on the contrary, Mr. Biancamano wrote to me: "the AHHC [Hearing Board] does not approve re-writes." This is just one more instance of multiple sets of rules at Ohio University. I will probably have to write another letter to Mr. Biancamano to find out what the rules really are (i.e. who is accountable for approval of a re-write with plagiarism and a re-write with missing chapters).

Then we have the most outrageous aspect of Mr. Biancamano's and Dr. Benoit's letter. They acknowledge that Dr. Ingram recused himself from one plagiarism case and that another one of his students is currently under investigation for plagiarism, but they conclude: "there is no reason for Dr. Ingram to step down from his position as chair of the AHHC." What is wrong with Ohio University's leaders? Dr. Ingram has approved at least two theses that contain obvious and blatant plagiarism. (You can see them here and here). Dr. Ingram has no business being involved in judging plagiarism; his history proves that he is not capable. Ohio University's leaders do not make any sense at all. How can they take action against Dr. Mehta and Dr. Gunasekera for allowing plagiarism, but then they reward Dr. Ingram with chairmanship of the plagiarism hearing committee? Eventually, the absurdity of their decisions will catch up with them.

1 comment:

Brian Manhire said...

I think OU’s acceptance of the rewritten theses with plagiarism and gutted chapters will go down as one of the greatest howlers in the history of higher education. What on earth were they thinking?!