In a recent academic scandal, a tenured professor’s fraudulent grading practices at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside have raised concerns about academic integrity.
Sahar Bahmani, a former professor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, faced allegations of “engaging in fraudulent grading” over a six-year period.
Despite her quiet resignation at the end of the spring semester, Bahmani continued her teaching career at UW-Milwaukee.
Even though UW-Milwaukee is within the same college system, Bahmi was hired on a one-year $125,000 non-faculty teaching position.
However, her tenure at UW-Milwaukee was short-lived, ending when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looked into the case.
UW-Milwaukee officials were unaware of the investigation at UW-Parkside when they offered Bahmani a teaching position and claimed they had no knowledge of the allegations against her.
Bahmani vehemently denied the grade inflation allegations, asserting that her grading errors were due to medical issues and confusion with the grading system.
Bahmani argued that her actions did not amount to “grade fraud” as they lacked any intention. She stated, “I did not do any of this intentionally, and the term fraud has the element of intent.”
The case came to light when a student, Casey Warning, discovered that he had received the highest grade for a course in which he had not submitted any work.
Warning’s inquiry then triggered an investigation into Bahmani’s grading practices.
After reporting the incident, Casey said, “My moral and ethical compass doesn’t allow me to take credit for things that I have not done.”
High Grades for No Work
Officials from the business department at UW-Parkside found that Bahmani had awarded the highest possible grades to students in an online degree program, even when they submitted partial or no work.
Despite Bahmani offering her resignation, she remained on the University’s payroll for an additional six months, teaching courses during the spring 2023 semester.
The allegations against Bahmani had significant implications for the University. The University claims this not only damaged the business school’s reputation but also jeopardized its accreditation and the integrity of the entire institution.
A complaint from the University’s business department said, “By falsifying grades, Dr. Bahmani has exposed us all to the real possibility that people in the community will begin questioning whether any UW-Parkside degree is legitimate.”
The School’s Values
In response to this event, a university spokesperson said, “The actions of Dr. Sahar Bahmani do not reflect the values or ethical practices of UW-Parkside, its Business Department, or the UW System.”
Bahmani’s actions had severe consequences, not only for the University but also for the affected students.
The University’s business department estimated that Bahmani’s grading practices cost UW-Parkside over $202,500 in lost tuition revenue, and in order to mitigate this, the University plans to offer affected students a free and voluntary retake option.
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the accrediting body for UW-Parkside’s business school, expressed concern about the lack of oversight in the online program.
While they did not revoke accreditation, they urged the University to take corrective measures, such as increased oversight and regular course review.
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