Volume 94, Issue 83

Wednesday, February 28, 2001


NEWS

Prof may have cheated - Quits under suspicion of academic fraud

Crime linked to abuse: study

Eight Trent protesters hole up in VP's office

Investigation continues into U of T grade-change charges

Gun registry asks biz sector for help - Advocacy group says gov't shooting itself in foot

Briefs

His Royal Mintiness

Prof may have cheated - Quits under suspicion of academic fraud

By Nicole Godin and Mike Murphy
Gazette Staff

The University of Regina is engulfed in controversy surrounding the resignation of an assistant professor of engineering who may have had no academic qualifications at all.

Lana Nguyen left her position two weeks ago after questions arose over her academic record, which claimed she had a PhD from the University of Waterloo and a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Ottawa, said University of Regina president David Barnard.

The president of the university's student union, Chris Shaf, said Nguyen presented herself as a digital systems engineer, noting she taught senior classes and supervised graduate students.

However, Nguyen's questionable academic credibility and subsequent resignation has raised many student concerns at the university, he said.

"There were anonymous petitions, an online petition and one formal student complaint requesting compensation and an apology from Ms. Nguyen," Shaf said. "There is an overall student push for an external inquiry into the proceedings surrounding Nguyen."

The anonymous Web site petition asking for an investigation into Nguyen's academic status was started by some of her former students, he said, adding the site gives a detailed description of the petition and allegations surrounding the professor.

"[For] the University of Regina to conduct an open, arms-length investigation into the hiring of Lana Nguyen and the circumstances of her employment," the petition asks.

But Barnard said he defended the institution's hiring and screening processes as rigorous and thorough. Candidates for professorships must make a presentation to the members of a selection committee, which conducts detailed reference checks, he said.

"We don't think there's any sloppiness here. It was just a matter of someone very intent on doing this."

Barnard said in the wake of the incident, screening processes will be reviewed and improvements will be made where possible.

He added student complaints about the departed professor will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan are in the process of stripping Nguyen of her membership, confirmed Dennis Haddock, the executive director of the registrar for APEGS.

Haddock said action was taken after an APEGS inquiry into her academic background, partially brought on by student complaints concerning her teaching ability, which indicated she did not have a bona fide engineering degree.

"To my knowledge nothing like this has ever happened before," he said. "This is the first case I have seen in the seven years I have had this job."

Nguyen was not available for comment.








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