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August 22, 2016

In this second of five Updates on highlights of our findings, I will focus on Criterion 2, Integrity. I hope that our findings in this area will help you as you prepare for meetings with the Site Visitors.  Please spend some time to discuss how your area acts with integrity.

Affirmations of Integrity. We have annual affirmations of integrity through our Community Covenant, General Workplace Standards, Essential Life Practices Agreement, Student Academic Integrity Pledge stated in course syllabi, and an emphasized, visual reminder of the Student Life Core Value IC, Integrity in Conduct.

Policies and Processes Guarantee Integrity. We have many policies and processes that guarantee integrity, from inside and outside controls in Finance, to hiring practices in HR, to the Academic Integrity Policy, and to regular evaluation and promotion processes.  We have conflict of interest, racial discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, and nepotism policies. We also maintain an Institutional Review Board that oversees research projects involving human subjects.

The ALG has formed an Academic Integrity Committee to research methods of training to help faculty prevent plagiarism, and to consider software that could detect plagiarism in online student work.  The Writing Center and Library offer training for students in proper use of citations in order to encourage proper respect for intellectual property and to help them understand what constitutes plagiarism.

Cedarville follows the regulations of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and informs students of their rights on a Student Life webpage and the Student Handbook.

We furthermore embrace academic freedom of expression as it fits within the limits of our doctrinal statement.  Our doctrinal statement is fully in line with our Mission, and so this should be acceptable to HLC. The following statement quoted from 2.D of the Assurance Argument describes academic freedom at Cedarville:

“Within this context [of the Doctrinal Statement], academic freedom is protected at Cedarville. Faculty are encouraged to address issues and perspectives both within and outside of Cedarville’s traditional faith commitments. Most general education courses, such as theology and politics, assign readings from various viewpoints. Speakers from many perspectives are regularly invited to campus. The Library houses volumes and journals that both articulate and oppose Cedarville’s worldview. Although Cedarville takes its faith commitments seriously, it ensures that students hear and interact with a variety of perspectives.”

Means of Reporting. We have multiple means of reporting any perceived unethical or unlawful conduct.  These include the Annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Report, to the Title IX coordinator, to an outside vendor hosted on our HR website called EthicsPoint, to a formal Grievance Policy with structured steps for voicing complaints, and to the Student Complaint area in Consumer Information. Cedarville also participates in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and Ruffalo Noel-Levitz Surveys in order to measure student satisfaction in comparison with students at other universities.

Consumer Information. This site contains a wealth of publicly-disclosed information about the University, fully developed over the last year as we prepared for the accreditation process.  Kim Jenerette and Tara Carraher worked many, many hours to complete this.  Dr. Supplee was instrumental in obtaining more visibility for the site on the About page of the  University’s main website.  Why is this important?  Public disclosure of everything from graduation rates to costs to financial aid and more is a part of integrity, of us being who we say we are and claim to be.  This is becoming more and more important for HLC and for the federal government as well.  This site is important evidence for us.  If you haven’t visited it, I would encourage you to do so before the Official Site Visit. You will learn a lot about who we are!

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