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Students of suspended professor seek public apology

Thursday, December 2, 2010 | 9:11 p.m. CST; updated 12:40 p.m. CST, Saturday, December 18, 2010

COLUMBIA — The MU students who filed a grievance against suspended engineering Professor Greg Engel said Thursday that they want a public apology.

Undergraduate students Wenting Zhou, Wanya Gu, Yushan Chang and Lauren Griggs said they had met with Deputy Provost Ken Dean. They said he offered them the option of meeting with Engel in an informal hearing to resolve their issues.

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“We’re willing to meet with him informally, and we’re asking for a public apology,” Griggs said.

Engel was suspended Nov. 13 on the grounds of “sexual and racial discrimination.” The charges were brought to light after the four women filed a formal complaint against him.

Engel has since maintained his innocence. He said the issue is rooted in a case of academic dishonesty brought against three of his students earlier this semester in an experimental engineering class.

The three students, all female and Chinese, claimed that plagiarism charges were based on gender and race.

Zhou, Gu and Chang said the plagiarism accusations Engel brought against them were unsubstantiated. In a separate incident, Griggs said Engel had filed a formal complaint against her that could have jeopardized her standing with the school.

“We are the only four women in the entire electrical engineering graduating class,” Griggs said. “I decided that we needed to go into this together.”

Zhou, Gu and Chang said they were given zeros on a lab assignment they completed as a group project because they turned in identical lab reports, which Engel prohibited.

The three women maintain, however, that this rule was not included in the syllabus nor did he address it in earlier assignments. Additionally, Gu said other students in the class had followed the same practice but were not punished.

“I went to his office hours to talk to him about it,” Gu said. “He refused to compare the other groups’ reports to ours. He could not give me a reasonable answer and slammed the door in my face.”

Engel said Thursday that although he refuses to comment on the specific complaints made against him, he had warned the class early in the semester that there would be consequences if they did not do their own work.

“I maintain that the three students cheated,” Engel said. “The students in the class were warned, and it continued. My job is to uphold the integrity in these classes.”

The women's grades are undergoing review, and they said they hope the situation doesn't affect their academic status.

Engel said he no longer has control over the grades in his classes.

“All my BlackBoard privileges were removed with my suspension,” he said.

After the women submit a final grievance report, they said Dean will follow up with Engel to determine whether to set an informal meeting or conduct a formal hearing.


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Comments

Frank Garro December 3, 2010 | 6:29 a.m.

I do find it curious that this case merits an entire article in this paper as there hasn't been a final grievance report filed by the students. Does the Missourian know how many grievances are filed against professors in an academic year in the university system? Nevertheless, I'm certain this has nothing to do with the fact that Professor Engel has an ongoing battle with, and filed grievances against, the university administration. One thing I do know, when I was a child my parents never accepted the excuse that "everyone else was doing it too."

(Report Comment)
Megan Cassidy December 3, 2010 | 2:14 p.m.

Thank you for your comment, Mr. Garro. I understand that some of the wording in the final paragraph of the article warrants some clarification.

An official, formal grievance has been filed weeks ago, and the four students are simply adding supplemental information to the report that was not previously available to them.

(Report Comment)

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