October 1, 2012
To: Baruch College Students, Faculty, and Staff
In light of recent evidence suggesting serious violations of academic integrity in certain undergraduate courses, I want to convey to the Baruch College community my determination to get at the root of the problem and to implement whatever changes are necessary to deter cheating in exams, homework, and essays. When I became president of Baruch two years ago, I did so in large measure because it is a very special institution of higher education. It embodies the diversity and aspirations of people from all walks of life; and for generations it has been a place that has opened doors for those who are prepared to work hard, thereby allowing them to realize the American dream. But Baruch must also be a place that embodies the highest ideals and standards of intellectual honesty. While I know that the overwhelming majority of Baruch students adhere to such standards, it appears that a few have strayed from this path.
Baruch has come a long way during the last decade in terms of improving its academic performance and reputation. Students engaging in dishonest practices such as buying or selling exam questions, or faculty failing to adhere to rigorous academic "best practice" standards by re-using exam questions or allowing previously used questions to remain in circulation, can threaten this progress. I want to state unequivocally that Baruch College will not tolerate violations of its academic integrity policy in any form and will impose severe penalties, up to and including expulsion, on those who are found to have engaged in such behavior. Furthermore, the College will substantially increase its monitoring of cheating by students who use Internet websites, focusing our efforts on the specific individuals and courses involved, and we will aggressively pursue websites that inappropriately use our materials in this fashion.
As we look to the future, it is important that we examine these issues in a comprehensive and systemic manner. The College spearheaded several initiatives regarding academic integrity since the 1990s, including creating the guidelines that became a model for CUNY. Clearly it is time to reinvigorate those efforts. Indeed, I believe that Baruch College is in a good position to analyze and address a cluster of problems that plague higher education today in many colleges and universities across the country, especially as newer technologies and websites open new opportunities for academic dishonesty. I have therefore asked Interim Provost John Brenkman to convene, in collaboration with Ben Corpus, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, a task force of faculty, administrators, and students to examine academic integrity, the use and abuse of online textbooks, test banks and other resources, and faculty teaching methods and diligence in monitoring students' work. I have asked the Provost to deliver a report, including concrete proposals, not later than November 15, 2012. The report will be made available to the entire Baruch community and the public once it is completed.
Later this week, we will establish a hotline where students, faculty, or any member of the Baruch community can express appropriate concerns or bring to our attention activities that are inconsistent with the high standards that we expect of all Baruch students.
This matter represents an opportunity for the entire Baruch College community to reaffirm its most fundamental values, and it requires the attention and involvement of us all.
President, Baruch College
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