Poshard: Ethics test not inherently bad

By Gus Bode

SIU President Glenn Poshard said Sunday he would not speak out against the Illinois Inspector General’s office over a contentious ethics exam after Illinois State University President Al Bowman criticized the office last week.

After 600 ISU employees were listed as noncompliant for taking the test too quickly, Bowman sent a letter to the Inspector General’s office, saying its actions “exhibited an alarming lack of judgment and common sense.”

State officials claimed those whose test was invalidated hastily took the exam, while employees argued that a minimum time requirement was not listed in instructions.


Last week, faculty union president Marvin Zeman and math professor Walter Wallis filed a lawsuit against the state requesting it purge the names from the noncompliance list because no minimum time limit was specified on the exam.

Poshard said the state meant well when it issued the ethics exam, but an unclear minimum time limit created confusion.

He said Zeman has the right to fight being listed as noncompliant, but the university would not take a stance against the state.

“If he feels that this is an unjust, unfair thing, then he has every right to seek justice however he feels necessary,” Poshard said. “That’s any individuals right to do that, but that doesn’t mean the test itself is bad or that it is intended to be something wrong.”

Zeman, who is also a mathematics professor, said he has awaited support from university administrators, and didn’t think it was an unreasonable request.

“We have our expectations of our integrity being defended by our leaders,” Zeman said.

Zeman said he praises Bowman’s decision to stand up to the state through his letter.


“I’m applauding the president of ISU for stepping up both in terms of complaining to the state when they acted improperly, but more importantly applauding him for standing up for his faculty and staff,” he said.

ISU spokesman Jay Groves said Bowman wanted to respond to complaints he received from ISU faculty and staff about the noncompliance.

“The reason President Bowman wrote the letter was to be in support of his own faculty and staff members,” Groves said.

Groves said Bowman’s letter was not permission for ISU employees to remain in noncompliance.

The exam’s instructions stated that most people took an average of 30 minutes to an hour to read the 80 pages of material and answer 10 questions. The test, required for all state employees under the 2003 Ethics Act, included questions that asked if people should look away or tell a supervisor if they see a coworker abusing office resources.

Those whose test was invalidated were asked to sign a form, which would mark them as noncompliant. Signing the form could have brought discipline, including firing.

Zeman and Wallis’ lawsuit claims the state acted illegally by threatening to discipline faculty members who failed the online test.

Inspector General spokesman Gilbert Jimenez said the SIUC professors’ request that the state purge the names of those listed as noncompliant seemed reasonable.

He said he had not seen the letter and was unable to discuss the state’s position.

Morteza Daneshdoost, chairman of the Faculty Association’s grievance committee, said faculty and staff members found noncompliant have no due process because of the way the state responded. He said the state is trying to be the jury, the prosecution and the judge.

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