Administration Makes Changes To Cope with Cheating Scandal
College administrators are bringing in extra help and shifting their priorities as they seek to balance new responsibilities stemming from Harvard’s sweeping cheating investigation with their normal job duties in University Hall.
The College was alerted to the massive academic integrity case last May, after assistant government professor Matthew B. Platt identified 13 suspicious final take-home exams in his spring course Government 1310: “Introduction to Congress.”
Administrators spent the summer reviewing all 279 final exams submitted in the course, and had narrowed the investigation down to about 125 students by the time they announced the scandal publicly on Aug. 30.
Harvard has since brought in “fact finders” to aid with the investigation, Jeff Neal, a spokesperson for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, wrote in an emailed statement.
“As it sometimes does when circumstances warrant, the Administrative Board has engaged supplemental fact finders as additional resources so that these cases can be heard as promptly as possible,” Neal wrote.
In August, the College chose history lecturer Brett Flehinger, formerly the resident dean of Lowell House, to fill a recently-created administrative position addressing academic integrity.
At least one administrator has also redrawn her fall schedule partly in response to the cheating scandal. Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds has cancelled History of Science 245: “The Changing Concept of Race in Science and Medicine in the United States: From Jefferson to Genomics,” the graduate seminar she had been slated to teach this fall, in part due to the cheating investigation, Neal wrote in a statement.
“Dean Hammonds is very disappointed that she won’t be able to offer her seminar this semester, as she had hoped and planned,” Neal wrote. “Unfortunately, her responsibilities as dean, including but not limited to the Administrative Board cases announced [on Aug. 30], will make it difficult for her to invest the time this semester that students in a class—particularly a seminar—deserve.”
Neal added that Hammonds hopes to teach the seminar in fall 2013.
The scandal also appears to have further delayed the release of a database of Ad Board statistics, which was originally expected to come out by the end of 2010.
In April, Ad Board Secretary John “Jay” L. Ellison told The Crimson that he expected the first part of the planned database, which would summarize past academic integrity cases, by the end of last academic year. But that database has yet to come out, and Neal did not provide a definite timeframe for its release.
“The first priority of the Administrative Board is to work with students to resolve cases before the board,” Neal wrote in an emailed statement. “Once those cases are resolved, the board can turn its attention back to longer-term projects.”
Peter F. Lake ’81, a professor at Stetson University College of Law who studies higher education law, said he thinks the sheer volume of the scandal places administrators under “tremendous pressure” to avoid mistakes, a task which will require a significant amount of time.
Lake estimated that administrators may dedicate more than fifty hours to each implicated student’s case, a total he predicted could add up to “essentially one administrator’s entire year of energy.”
Administrators have not indicated a timeline for when they will resolve the more than 100 cases connected to the scandal, but one student under investigation said he had been told by Ellison that he could expect a decision by November at the latest.
—Nathalie R. Miraval contributed to the reporting of this article.
—Staff writer Rebecca D. Robbins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.