Auburn pharmacy school probes ‘widespread cheating’ allegations

Auburn pharmacy school probes ‘widespread cheating’ allegations
The Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy (Source: WSFA 12 News)

AUBURN, Ala. (WSFA) - Auburn University is investigating “potentially widespread cheating” by students at its pharmacy school.

Thursday, Harrison School of Pharmacy Dean Richard Hansen said the school took immediate action upon learning of the issue, though few other details were made public.

"We acted in accordance with university and school policy and took immediate action to investigate and take all appropriate steps,” Hansen said when asked. "We hold academic integrity very seriously and are working diligently to address the situation as quickly as possible.”

The news became public days after Hansen revealed it internally via an email to staff and faculty. The University confirmed the dean sent the email regarding the discovery of “potentially widespread cheating among our P1-P3 students” within the last week. P1-P3 indicates the students’ year within the school.

Hansen called the discovery “a very delicate issue” and urged staff not to discuss the matter with students if approached, rather they should contact him directly.

The email stated that the dean had spoken with each class after gathering “initial data” and said he offered leniency to those who voluntarily came forward. He indicated that “we have met with a number of students that have revealed their actions and identified others that were involved.”

The dean’s email said the investigation “continues to unfold as we uncover new people involved,” but he added his “intention to bring some closure to this issue when I further address each class on Thursday and Friday of this week.”

Those students found to be involved who don’t come forward may find themselves in more trouble, according to the dean’s email. That could include sanctions or honor board hearings.

It’s unclear exactly how the alleged cheating was undertaken or how the university ultimately uncovered it.

Founded in 1885, the Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked in the top 20 percent of all Pharmacy Schools by U.S. News & World Report and is Alabama’s only public institution charged with educating pharmacists.

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