Academic Integrity Policy

A. Jurisdiction

This policy covers all cases where graduate or undergraduate students are alleged to have committed academic dishonesty at Villanova University in the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Nursing, Professional Studies, or School of Business. This policy does not apply to students solely in the School of Law, which has its own policy.

B. Policy

If a faculty member believes that a student has committed an academic integrity violation, the faculty member shall, under normal circumstances, notify the student, allowing the student an opportunity to respond. Faculty members who have questions about whether an incident constitutes an academic integrity violation are urged to consult with their chair, dean, or with the chair of the Academic Integrity Board. If the faculty member continues to believe that a violation has occurred, the faculty member assigns an appropriate grade, typically an F for the course, an F for the assignment, or some other grade that the faculty member judges appropriate (in the School of Business, all faculty members assign a grade of zero to any work in violation of the Code). At the sole discretion of the faculty member, the faculty member may also offer the student an opportunity to redo the work or complete an alternate or additional piece of work. The faculty member must report in writing to his or her chair or program director that an academic integrity violation has occurred. A form is available for reporting violations or faculty members may write a letter. The letter should give a brief account of the matter and, where appropriate, should include copies of the assignment and other documentary evidence. The faculty member may also make a recommendation as to whether the violation should be treated as a Class I violation or as a Class II violation. Typically, violations of the Academic Integrity Code are treated as Class I violations, but in cases which are less serious or where there are mitigating circumstances, the violation may be treated as a Class II violation.

In cases that are particularly complex, the faculty member may also recommend that the matter be referred to the Board of Academic Integrity. If the department chair has questions, the chair may refer the matter back to the faculty member or ask for further clarification from the faculty member. Unless the faculty member wishes to withdraw the case, the chair sends a copy of the faculty member’s report to the faculty member’s dean.

When the faculty member’s dean receives the report, the dean reviews the case. If the dean has questions about the case, the dean may request further consultation with the student, the faculty member, or the chair. Unless the faculty member wishes to withdraw the case at this point, the faculty member's dean makes a determination of the level of the violation (whether Class I or Class II), giving serious weight to the recommendation of the faculty member and chair. If a student has previously received a violation (either Class I or Class II), then all subsequent violations will normally be held to be Class I violations.

The faculty member’s dean sends a hard copy or e-mail letter (using the official University e-mail system) to the student informing the student that the student is being charged with having committed an academic integrity violation, and indicating the level of the violation. The letter to the student should include a copy of the academic integrity policy. Copies should also be sent to all parties (defined as follows): the faculty member; the student; the student’s dean (if different); the faculty member’s chair; the faculty member’s program director (if different); and the chair of the board of academic integrity. The student shall respond in writing to the faculty member's dean within five business days of receipt of the notice of complaint (excluding public and University holidays), either admitting the violation or asserting innocence. Failure to respond will be construed as admission that a violation has occurred. The faculty member's dean will send copies of the student's letter to all of the parties indicated above. If the student admits that a violation has occurred but asserts that there are extenuating circumstances, the student should explain this in the letter to the dean. The dean may, at any point in the proceedings, change the level of the violation from Class I to Class II.

If the student denies that an academic integrity offense has occurred, the faculty member's dean will refer the matter to the Chair of the Board of Academic Integrity, with notification of this to the other parties.

Upon receiving notice from the dean, the chair of the Board of Academic Integrity will assemble a panel consisting of faculty and student members of the Board of Academic Integrity. The panel will make a determination (based on a preponderance of the evidence) of whether academic dishonesty has occurred and will convey its finding to the dean, who will advise the student and faculty member of their rights of appeal. If several students are involved in one case, the dean may request that the panel consider the situation of all involved students, even if one or more do not deny having committed an academic integrity offense. If the panel finds that no violation has occurred, the faculty member’s dean will advise the faculty member to regrade (on the premise that no violation has occurred), and notification will be sent to all parties. The Chair of the Academic Integrity Board may make informal recommendations to the dean on issues relating to the level of the violation, but the purpose of the panel is to consider whether an academic integrity violation has occurred. The panel does not make recommendations on issues such as mitigating circumstances or the severity of the punishment.

If the panel determines that a violation has occurred, the original grade assigned by the faculty member will stand. If a student believes that the grade assigned is inappropriate, the student may appeal the grade through the normal procedure for handling complaints concerning grades. As usual in such cases, the instructor’s stated policy regarding grading and academic integrity will be taken into account and given great weight. The complaint process will only consider the grade, and will not review the decision that an academic integrity violation has occurred.

Once it has been determined that a violation has occurred (either by admission of the student or by a decision of the panel) the faculty member's dean sends a notification to all parties. At this point, the case is turned over to the student’s dean. The student’s dean will supervise a program of education and reflection on the meaning and importance of academic integrity. This may include any or all of the following: written exercises; participation in an academic integrity educational program supervised by the college; or community service. If this program is not carried out within the timelines specified by the dean and to the dean’s satisfaction, the dean will impose a judicial hold on the student’s records (and inform the student that such a hold has been placed). This will prevent the student from registering for courses or graduating until the conditions imposed by the dean have been satisfied. The student's dean may also impose or recommend additional disciplinary penalties.

A student who has two Class I violations of the academic integrity code will be reviewed by his or her dean. The dean will review the student’s file and also consult with other academic deans if one or more of the cases occurred in another college. Absent extenuating or mitigating circumstances, the student will be dismissed from the University and a record of the reason for the dismissal will be retained in the student’s permanent file and will appear on the student’s official transcript. At the sole discretion of the dean, the student may be suspended or put on probation instead of dismissed, with or without a permanent indication on the transcript.

Materials on academic integrity violations will be retained in the files until the student graduates or otherwise severs all relationship with the University. If there is no indication of an academic integrity violation on the student’s transcript, the files will be removed and destroyed. If there is an indication on the student’s transcript, the files will be retained.

Students who believe that an integrity violation has occurred should report the suspected violation to the faculty member. If the faculty member does not act on the report, the student may also report the matter, in writing, directly to the faculty member's chair or dean, who will then make a judgment as to whether an academic integrity violation has occurred, and, if so, will follow the process described above.


January 3, 2000 (modified and reissued August 10, 2004; February 27, 2015)

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