Finance faculty resign after investigation

Two professors resigned and one was fired by the Northern Kentucky University Board of Regents Aug. 26 after a faculty investigation found that 23 research papers presented or published from 1995-2001 included several instances of research misconduct.

Finance Professors Anju and Balasubramani Ramjee, a married couple who worked for NKU for 15 years, resigned and Richard Snyder, an economics professor for 25 years, was fired for their part in what the Investigative Committee called numerous instances of “fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or serious deviations from accepted practices.”

Two other faculty members involved in the investigation include Shailendra Verma and Louis Noyd.

Verma, named as an author on all of the 23 papers in question, resigned as chair of the finance department six months ago.

Noyd will retire at the end of this year after 31 years as an economics professor at NKU.

The decision came after an 18-month investigation conducted by Thomas Kearns, mathematics and computer science department, Robert Kempton, chemistry department, and Matthew Shank, chair of the management and marketing department, led to NKU President James Votruba’s recommendation of termination for cause, which the Board approved.

Procedures in the faculty handbook were followed step-by-step from the initial concern of misconduct raised by Nancy Lang, chair of the economics department, in February 2002, through the formal decision of the Board last week. “We wanted to make sure no one was unjustly charged,” said Brenda Wilson, chair of the Board of Regents.

Wilson said the work done by the committee was “phenomenal, diligent and professional…consistently guided by professional ethics” and that everyone on the Board asked a lot of questions.

“We didn’t want to make mistakes…this was serious. We wanted to do the right thing,” she said.

The investigation concluded that some research results were fabricated or falsified by data from one paper being presented in part or exactly as claimed in a previous document.

The committee also found what was called “serious deviation from accepted practices” where information was reused in separate papers or work from other documents was not properly attributed.

The investigation also cites plagiarism in the form of “authorship issues.”

The report lists Verma as an author on all 23 papers, B. Ramjee on 17, A. Ramjee on 15, Noyd on five and Snyder on two.

The report said, “not only did the other listed authors not make a significant contribution in any of these areas, they made no contribution.”

Snyder was fired for research misconduct for plagiarism by claiming authorship when he had actually made no contribution.

Wilson said the Board invited Snyder on six separate occasions to meet with them to discuss the allegations, but he declined.

“We wanted to hear from him but we didn’t get that opportunity,” Wilson said.

Noyd’s involvement was less active and considered an irregularity, but did not constitute misconduct, Wilson said.

“He did not seem to be aware of issues with the papers,” she said.

Wilson said the work of the committee left her extremely proud to be associated with NKU faculty.

“They care about other professors and about professionalism,” she said. “Their actions have kept the university’s reputation intact.”