By Peter Murphy
Published May 3, 2022
Ethan Blanton, assistant professor of teaching in computer science and engineering and Jim Jensen, environmental engineering professor, received the inaugural Academic Integrity faculty awards from the newly established University at Buffalo Office of Academic Integrity.
The Office of Academic Integrity (OAI) promotes the university’s fundamental value of integrity in the academic enterprise. OAI holds students accountable to honesty in the learning and research processes, supports faculty in creating academically sound learning environments, and promotes several other initiatives.
To be considered for the faculty distinction in academic integrity, faculty members must not only meet, but exceed, the university’s expectations to uphold academic integrity. The award criteria identify six values faculty members must demonstrate: trust, honesty, fairness, respect, responsibility and courage. Based on their nominations, both Blanton and Jensen are instrumental promoting academic integrity in their own departments, and the university.
“Ethan is a strong advocate for academic integrity in our department,” says Jinhui Xu, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. “He chairs our Promotion Academic Integrity (PAI) Committee and has led the efforts in developing our value statement which makes academic integrity as a part of our core values. We are so excited that Ethan has been recognized with this well-deserved award.”
Blanton developed an academic integrity quiz to ensure students are knowledgeable about university policies, and other faculty members in the department regularly use this quiz. The PAI committee’s goals include reducing integrity violation cases in the department and improving the consistency of academic integrity policy enforced across all computer science and engineering courses.
In his own courses, Blanton records videos for students discussing the importance of integrity in their academic work and future careers. He also maintains a webpage for students explaining the rationale behind academic integrity and how to maintain it throughout their careers. His commitment extends beyond his own courses and to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.
“It is this kind of work to affect cultural change within his courses and across his department that really impressed the awards committee,” says Kelly Ahuna, director of OAI.
Jensen’s work on academic integrity spans across multiple levels within the University. He has served on numerous adjudication committees at the departmental, school and university levels.
“Jim has been a champion of academic integrity for a long time,” says Joseph Atkinson, professor and chair of the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering. “He brought this commitment to every role he’s served in our department, whether that’s as a professor, director of our undergraduate programs, or any of his various academic leadership roles.”
Jensen served as co-chair of UB’s Academic Integrity Committee from 2015-2017 and was a key contributor in forming the OAI. Jensen helped lead the group of 28 faculty, staff and student committee members through the process of developing the OAI. He adapted the survey used to collective information on the campus climate about academic integrity, led focus groups with students, faculty and the professional schools, and examined best practices at peer institutions.
“My role as the director of the OAI, the OAI itself, and these awards are all outcomes of the work Dr. Jensen oversaw,” Ahuna says. “I think all who know Dr. Jensen know that his work in this area will never be ‘done.’ He truly recognizes the value of academic integrity to our university and has committed an exceptional amount of time and energy to uphold it.”
The ceremony also acknowledged OAI’s student integrity ambassadors. These students support other students and faculty in upholding integrity on campus. Three School of Engineering and Applied Sciences students served as ambassadors during the 2021-2022 academic year: Aniruddh Devaiya, electrical engineering student and Snigdha Motadaka and Adarsh Sivadas, both computer science students.
Blanton and Jensen received their awards at the first Academic Integrity Awards Ceremony held on April 25 in the Buffalo Room.
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