September 4, 2008
What began as a general conversation about ethics is becoming an ingrained part of campus life at Texas Tech.
Three years ago the university selected ethics as the subject for its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). The QEP, a five-year program, is a requirement for reaffirmation of accreditation.
“We chose a topic we believed would enhance the quality of the institution and improve the quality of student learning,” said Jonathan Marks, director of the Ethics Initiative in the Office of the Provost. “Ethics emerged as a priority area in a survey of the campus community. We are not just talking about students’ cheating on tests. When we talk about ethics, we are talking about the broad area of academic integrity as well as situations, small and large, that come up every day which require people to make ethical decisions.”
The “Campus Conversation on Ethics” was announced in 2005. Since then, speakers have been brought to campus, campus-wide ethics days have been held, a bus operating on campus has been wrapped with images featuring the theme and ethics lectures have increased in classes across campus.
As part of the QEP, a task force of faculty, staff and students produced a Statement of Ethical Principles which was adopted this year by the Board of Regents, as well as a Statement of Academic Integrity.
“The ethical principles document is perhaps our greatest success to date,” Marks said. “A statement of ethical principles is something that should be used and referred to and talked about by everyone in the campus community.”
With the beginning of the fall semester, the biggest push yet has begun to work ethics into the university culture. Entering freshman discussed academic integrity and ethics during Red Raider Camp and as part of First Year Experience activities. The freshman seminar class IS1100 will also feature ethics discussions.
“This year’s freshman class came in aware that ethics are a big part of the curriculum and life at Texas Tech,” Marks said.
In September, two major events will revolve around the ethics theme. On Sept. 8, David Callahan, author of “The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead” will speak to the Division of Student Affairs, campus and QEP leadership, and the public. On Sept. 9 Melora Sundt, associate dean of academic affairs at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, will speak during the University Convocation about academic integrity.
Next on the QEP’s agenda is focusing on a number of assessment activities. Accrediting agencies demand student learning outcomes be measured and that will include the ethics portions of some classes.
“We must measure the impact we are having on our students,” Marks said. “We selected ethics as an area that is important to the university. Assessment is our way of reporting to the public that the QEP is contributing an extra dimension to our students’ learning.”
Has the ethics initiative been successful? Marks think the conversation is making an impact, and will continue to do so.
“One hears more talk about ethics on campus,” Marks said. “The initiative is not solely responsible for that, but I believe that we started the conversation.”
Callahan is the author of "The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead.”
The lecture will be held at 3:30 p.m. Sept 8 at the Allen Theatre.
Texas Tech's 2008 University Convocation will host keynote speaker Melora Sundt, in an effort to help incoming freshmen understand the importance of academic integrity.
Sundt, associate dean of academic affairs at the University of Southern California's Rossier School of Education, will focus her speech on the univeristy's Statement of Ethical Principles and the Strive for Honor initiatives.
University Convocation will be held at 5 p.m. Sept. 9 at the United Spirit Arena.