Integrity as the Pillar of Being the Best

Integrity is one of the five organizational Values that encompasses the core identity of Clarkson College. As professionals, practitioners, students, teachers and stewards, we must recognize the importance integrity holds in our collective mission to “prepare the best” in health care.

To uphold its commitment to this principal Value, the College established an Academic Integrity Education Committee (AIEC) in 2014. “We monitor and report trends pertaining to academic integrity, as well as provide education based on those trends,” said AIEC chair, Carla Dirkschneider. “Our ultimate goal is to make Clarkson College 100 percent academic integrity violation-free.”

The AIEC sponsors various activities and initiatives that serve as subtle yet ongoing reminders to students that honesty and ethics in scholarship are critical to both academic and long- term professional success. The 2016–17 academic year’s efforts included a combination of on-campus and online initiatives, as well as a new partnership with the Alumni Association.

Midterms Motivation

During the weeks leading up to fall midterm exams, the committee held an “Academic Integrity Matters” campaign that relied on posters, e-mails and social media posts to remind students that honest and persistent dedication to their academics is far more meaningful than any one test score. With that, the communications prompted students to complete a three-question survey to learn how knowledgeable they are of the current Clarkson College Academic Integrity Policy.

During spring midterm exams, the committee surprised students with free offerings of hot chocolate and coffee. Attached to the cups were stickers that read, “Academic integrity matters” and a uRL that directed students to a webpage where they could sign an online pledge to uphold their integrity. More than 550 students have signed the pledge since the committee initially launched it in fall 2014. 

New $250 Scholarship

New this past fall, the AIEC and the Alumni Association collaborated to develop a scholarship that recognizes graduating students who have maintained a high degree of integrity throughout their course of study. Referring to examples from their personal, academic and/or professional lives, scholarship applicants must explain in 250–500 words what integrity means to them and how they exemplify the Clarkson College Value. The recipient may apply his/her $250 award (funded by the Alumni Association) to cover academic-related expenditures, such as Board exam costs, licensure fees or outstanding tuition or book fees.

Addressing Violations

Separate from the AIEC is the Academic Integrity Committee, which is a standing committee that serves as an appellate board for all matters relating to academic integrity violations at the College. A new committee is created for each violation, and its members include:

  • ›  One academic dean or program director/coordinator (if necessary) who is outside of the student’s major or minor;

  • ›  Two faculty members selected by the Faculty Senate President who teach outside the student’s major or minor and who have had at least two full-time semesters’ employment; and

  • ›  Three students selected by the Student Government Association (SGA) who are enrolled outside the student’s major or minor and who have earned at least 24 semester hours at Clarkson College.

    The Overarching Purpose

    Ultimately, each role and responsibility of the AIEC is more than just a single-handed attempt to inhibit students from cheating or cutting corners on their studies. With each individual effort, the goal is for students to see that preparedness is a derivative of competency, and that competency comes with integrity. Whether today as a student or in the far future as a seasoned health care professional, the hope is that integrity continues to be the touchstone for every performed action, every tough decision made and every celebrated success.