Policy on Academic Misconduct

Creighton University Graduate School
Policies and Procedures

For purposes of this policy, student academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Cheating:  The deliberate use or attempted use of unauthorized material in an academic exercise, including unauthorized collaboration with classmates
  2. Plagiarism:  The deliberate representation of the words, ideas or work of others as one’s own in an academic exercise; the appropriation of the language, ideas or thoughts of another and representation of them as one’s own original work
  3. Falsification:  Falsifying documents, correspondence, reports, or records of any kind, or knowingly providing false information or evidence to University or School personnel, or to others external to the University
  4. Fabrication:  The deliberate generation or augmentation of data, information, citation or result in an academic exercise
  5. Improprieties of Authorship:  Improper assignment of credit or misrepresentation of material as original without proper referencing of the original authors
  6. Facilitating Academic Dishonesty:  The deliberate assistance or attempted assistance of another student to commit an act of academic misconduct.
  7. Theft or destruction of library materials or other academic resources
  8. Violation of codes of conduct described in the University’s Student Handbook, program or department policies, and/or articulated by instructors either verbally or in writing

All Creighton University graduate students are subject to the standards of academic integrity required by the University, and to the possible penalties for academic misconduct in course work.  In addition, students must also observe any additional standards announced in writing by faculty members for particular courses.

Each faculty member is responsible for maintaining academic integrity in his or her courses and has the authority, using proper procedures and reasonable judgment, to determine whether a student has engaged in academic misconduct.  The faculty member must decide whether the misconduct involves a less serious infraction, susceptible to resolution by informal methods, or a more serious infraction requiring severe and stigmatizing penalty, such as suspension and/or expulsion.  Once the faculty member has made an initial determination of academic misconduct, he or she shall initiate the process explained below.

Step 1.  Making an Allegation

The faculty member should make the initial determination of academic misconduct within ten days of the discovery of the infraction, if possible, and the entire process should be completed within 60 days.

In all cases of suspected academic misconduct, it is recommended that the instructor confront the student in person within five business days to discuss the allegations.  Such allegations must be grounded in evidence retained by the instructor.  If at any point during the discussion, the instructor accepts the student’s explanation of the alleged infraction, the process is terminated and the incident is dropped without further action.

If the instructor considers the infraction to be of a less serious nature, the instructor may elect to resolve the issue by means of informal methods such as warning, counseling, additional assignments or grading.  If the instructor considers the infraction to be of a more serious nature requiring a severe and stigmatizing penalty, the instructor may recommend suspension, probation, expulsion or other action commensurate with the seriousness and circumstances of the misconduct.  The instructor is strongly encouraged to visit with their graduate program director and/or department chair, and the Graduate Dean when considering a course of action.  The instructor shall provide a copy of the Academic Misconduct Policy to the student.  The instructor should provide written notification, including a proposed resolution or penalty, to the Dean of the Graduate School, the student’s major advisor, the student, the student’s graduate program director and/or department chair.  The Dean will respond in writing, confirming the resolution or penalty suggested by the faculty member.  In cases of less serious infractions, the student may be reprimanded by the instructor(s), and the Graduate School can send letters of reprimand with the threat of dismissal should there be any further occurrence.  Such informal methods shall not be considered to be severe or stigmatizing.  Confidential records of authorized actions shall be kept by the Graduate School.

The letter to the student shall inform the student of his/her right to appeal the charge, and should include a copy of this policy.  The Assistant Dean of the Graduate School will notify the Registrar, if appropriate, to prevent the student from dropping the course, thereby evading a grading penalty.  The faculty member shall preserve any evidence that might be needed by the Academic Hearing Subcommittee in the event of an appeal by the student.

If the student admits to the allegation, the authorized resolution or penalty is imposed.

Step 2.  Notification and Meeting with the Chair

If the student denies but instructor maintains the allegation, the instructor shall notify the program director as soon as possible that s/he has accused the student of academic misconduct and how the student has responded to the allegation.  The instructor and the student should meet with the Program Director/Department Chair, preferably together, to discuss the allegation.  The function of the Program Director/Department Chair is to serve as a mediator who can take a fresh look at the issue.

If the instructor and/or the Program Director/Department Chair become satisfied that the student did not commit the alleged offense, the instructor withdraws his or her accusation and all records of the accusation are removed from the student’s records.  No further action is taken.

If the student admits to committing the alleged offense during or after this meeting, then the instructor shall impose an appropriate disciplinary penalty.

After the meeting with the instructor and the Program Director/Department Chair, if the student does not admit to committing the alleged offense, then the instructor may unilaterally impose an appropriate disciplinary penalty.

Step 3:  Appealing a Charge of Academic Misconduct

The student shall have the right to appeal a charge of academic misconduct.  The student must file a written request for an appeal hearing with the Graduate Dean within 10 business days of notification.  A student who appeals an academic disciplinary action to the Dean is permitted to continue in the program with the same rights and responsibilities as other students, pending the outcome of the appeal, unless there are reasons relating to the physical or emotional welfare of the student or others, or reasons involving the safety of persons or property.

Upon notification of a hearing request, the Graduate Dean will appoint a three-person Academic Hearing Subcommittee from among the members of the Graduate Board.  This subcommittee shall conduct an initial fact-finding investigation, gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses to determine the facts.  The investigation shall include a statement from the faculty member, describing the situation and action, a statement from the student including reason for the hearing request, and all statements by witnesses.  The Graduate Dean shall circulate the statements to subcommittee members, noting that confidential items must be kept in a secure location.  The subcommittee shall also obtain any additional information requested by the faculty member, the student or subcommittee members.  If requested by the subcommittee, the Assistant Dean of the Graduate School shall provide the subcommittee the record of academic misconduct of any student requesting a hearing.  Copies of all items of evidence should be sent to the instructor and the student or, if the evidence cannot be copied, the Graduate Dean should arrange for the evidence to be inspected by these parties at a convenient time.  All evidence and information relating to a case of alleged academic misconduct shall be held in confidence by the instructor, the student, the Program Director/Department Chair, the Graduate Dean, the Academic Misconduct Subcommittee, the members of the Graduate Board, and any other employee of the University who is involved with the case.

All evidence collected by the Academic Hearing Subcommittee will then be provided to the members of the Graduate Board, with the exception of any individuals who have a clear conflict of interest in the case.  Upon reviewing the evidence, the members of the Graduate Board have a right to request any additional information they feel will be useful in deliberating the case.  When the Graduate Board is satisfied that further inquiry will not turn up any new material, a hearing will be scheduled.  If feasible, the hearing should be scheduled within 30 calendar days of the Academic Hearing Subcommittee’s notice of a hearing request.  Graduate Board members who have a clear conflict of interest in the case will not participate in the formal hearing.  Hearings will be held in closed session and will be electronically recorded.  Accidental erasure or destruction of the tapes, failure of the recording equipment and/or poor quality of the recording will not be grounds for appeal.  The instructor and the student shall attend the hearing.  Witnesses may be present at the hearing only during their own testimony except with the permission of both the student and the Graduate Dean.  Legal counsel for the student and/or the University may be present at the hearing in an advisory role.  Legal counsel shall not function as an advocate.

The student shall have the right to state his or her case, to offer explanations and interpretations of each item of evidence and testimony, and to ask questions of the faculty member and witnesses.  The faculty member may offer interpretations of the evidence and testimony and ask questions as necessary.  Each Board member may ask questions.  The proceedings of the hearing are to be confidential and are not to be discussed outside the hearing.

In adjudicating a student’s appeal of academic misconduct, the burden of proof lies on the instructor to show a preponderance of evidence that the student committed the alleged offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

The members of the Graduate Board shall discuss the case in closed session as soon as possible after all evidence has been gathered by the Academic Hearing Subcommittee.  A vote is taken whether to uphold the faculty member’s initial determination of academic misconduct.  When a faculty member’s recommendation of suspension or expulsion is involved, the Graduate Board also votes whether to uphold that recommendation.  No votes in absentia shall be counted.  The Graduate Dean will act upon the recommendation of the Graduate Board and notify the student, the faculty member and other necessary parties of the results of the determination.  The Dean’s ruling is final, subject only to the student’s limited right to appeal the ruling to the University President.  If the Graduate Board determines that the faculty member acted improperly or mistakenly in his or her initial determination of more serious academic misconduct, it may recommend that the Graduate Dean expunge the notice of academic misconduct or attach a letter of explanation to the notice.  The Graduate Board may support the recommendations of the faculty members and/or include other penalties.  While the Graduate Board may not impose grade alterations based on the content of a student’s work, it has the authority to uphold the grade sanctions recommended by the faculty member if the student is found to have engaged in academic misconduct.  The Graduate Dean’s notification letter shall direct the student to the Office of the President should he or she want to appeal the decision.  The Graduate School will retain the various documents and records used as evidence in the case.  If the Graduate Board does not support the instructor’s allegations, all grade penalties shall be eliminated.

The student has the right of appeal to the President if and only if the Graduate Dean has imposed a serious disciplinary penalty, that is, suspension, expulsion, or request for withdrawal from the University.  The appeal must be in writing and must be filed within 10 business days of receiving notification from the Graduate Dean.  The President will review the Graduate Board’s recommendation and may uphold the decision, reverse the decision, modify the decision and/or penalties, or refer the case back to the Graduate Board.  In any case, the decision of the President is final.

If the student is found not to have committed an act of academic misconduct, then the Dean shall expunge the student’s permanent academic file of all documents relating to the alleged offense and shall direct the instructor to expunge his or her files of any documents relating to the alleged offense.

Approved:  10/27/2011