UT Dallas Tribunal: Class Credit Arrangement ‘improper’ But Professors Should Keep Their Jobs

A faculty group at the University of Texas at Dallas does not believe the school’s president should fire two professors who participated in awarding class credits to law enforcement officers for graduate-level courses they did not take at the university.The faculty tribunal called the practice “improper from an academic integrity standpoint,” but determined that professors Robert Taylor and John Worrall believed the process was properly approved and there was no evidence of “malicious intent.” “In sum, there is no evidence of fraud or an attempt to act without the knowledge and approval of superiors,” the tribunal wrote in two letters dated July 8 to University President Richard Benson. Benson sought to fire both professors in April based on their roles in creating and continuing the credit transfer arrangement, which the school’s provost previously characterized as possible academic fraud. During a hearing in June, the tribunal heard testimony from UTD officials, a UT System investigator and an attorney representing both professors. In separate letters pertaining to Worrall and Taylor, the tribunal said the evidence did not show that the professors “intentionally misled” the university. The tribunal also faulted a communication breakdown for the continued use of the credit transfers. The Dallas Morning News obtained copies of the letters Tuesday. Taylor and Worrall have repeatedly denied wrongdoing through their attorney, Frank Hill. In a phone interview Tuesday, Hill said the tribunal cleared his clients. The next step is for Benson to review the tribunal’s findings and determine whether to dismiss the matter, impose sanctions short of firing or recommend to the UT System Board of Regents that the professors be fired.The transfer credit arrangement was the subject of a News investigation earlier this year. The story, based on a UT System investigative report and other records, detailed how instructors allegedly told law enforcement officers in a special master’s program that they could skip classes yet nevertheless gave them top grades and credit. The story also highlighted failures by university leaders to heed red flags in recent years pointing to improper practices.  Continue reading...

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