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U of R engineering prof sanctioned for misconduct

Ezeddin Shirif ordered to pay $26,520.76 to APEGA

Despite contacting the dean’s office we were unable to reach Shirif for comment. /  Brett Nielsen
Despite contacting the dean’s office we were unable to reach Shirif for comment. / Brett Nielsen

A University of Regina engineering professor has been heavily sanctioned for misconduct by APEGA, including being ordered to pay the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) $26,520.76.

Ezeddin Shirif, currently teaching U of R students in two courses this semester, plagiarized a U of R Masters student’s work in May of 2008, submitting a paper written by the student to an academic journal without citing the student’s name.

Overall, the committee found Shirif guilty on three counts. Firstly, according to APEGA’s May 12, 2014 Discipline Committee Decision, Shirif “failed to take appropriate steps to ensure that [the student’s name] was listed on the Copyright Release as an author or co-author,” of a published paper that the student wrote. Secondly, not only did Shirif fail to name the student on the release, he forged the names of two other people as coauthors without “informing them… or obtaining their consent,” thus “inappropriately” signing their names.

Lastly, Shirif failed “to comply with [his] duty to cooperate with APEGA’s investigation” by failing to provide documentation of other investigative findings, including from the U of R, and failing to “provide a substantive response” to APEGA’s investigative panel.

In the ruling, Shirif was found “guilty of unprofessional conduct” on all three counts. The report emphasized that Shirif “did not appear contrite for his conduct and demonstrated disdain for APEGA and the investigation.”

Shirif has not responded to the ruling, according to the decision. The report says that Shirif “failed to cooperate or engage in any manner with APEGA” for an “extended time period.”

The petroleum systems engineering professor refused to attend or even be represented at his March 18, 2013 hearing, even though Shirif had been personally served by a process server.

Thus, Shirif will not be able to register with APEGA for five years, and will only be able to do so if he completes the associations’ professional practice and ethics exam. He will also have to pay $26,520.76 within six months of the decision.

The decision is dated May 12, 2014.

Shirif has not responded to the Carillon’s multiple requests for an interview.

APEGS, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan, according to the APEGA decision, found Shirif not guilty of professional misconduct. This is one area where Shirif did participate with APEGA, “[t]he APEGS document which exonerated the behaviour of the investigated member in the eyes of APEGS is the only, and perhaps selective, document which Dr. Shirif produced.”

Student’s reaction, and penalties on students

The student who Shirif plagiarized, Shahryar Ali Khan, was happy with the ruling, all these years later.

“I’m really satisfied with this ruling. I’m glad, I have to say, that justice has been served,” Khan said. “It was very serious breech of academic and professional misconduct that Dr. Shirif had done, and I believe it sends a clear message, that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated. Period.”

Khan, a U of R graduate with a Masters in petroleum systems engineering, is not happy with the way his alma mater handled Shirif’s plagiarism and forgery.

“The way they handled it was pretty unprofessional. I’m a former graduate of the University of Regina, and it is really disappointing and disheartening to see how the University of Regina dealt with this case in complete secrecy. I was not informed from the beginning as to how they were handling this, as well as I was not informed of the final decision of what they found, if they found something against Dr. Shirif. I mean, I’m the complainant.”

Shirif has also never apologized to his former Master’s student.

“He got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, with all due respect, but I mean maybe that’s his arrogance, his cockiness, for lack of a better word, but that’s exactly what it is. I mean, he was found guilty by a professional association where he was a member, and that association regulates the profession of engineering in Alberta,” said Khan.

“It’s not a joke.”

Khan was surprised that Shirif still teaches at the U of R.

“I’m sure he’s still lecturing the students to be ethical and to be honest, and not use any unfair means during exams and assignments,” said Khan. “It’s a surprise to me he’s still there.”

Khan explained, “There is definitely a double standard being applied towards the professors versus towards the students.”

“Imagine if a student was in his position. His or her career would have been destroyed; literally, it would have been destroyed.”

Luckily, the ordeal didn’t affect Khan’s career, and he is now working as a petroleum engineer in Alberta.

“I’m very happy where I am professionally.”

 

The administration and the Faculty of Engineering

The Carillon contacted the University of Regina administration to understand what disciplinary measures Shirif received and to request an interview. No interview was granted. A Feb. 2 statement from external relations sent to the Carillon says that the “University has previously completed an investigation into the matter. The ruling by AGEPA does not affect that investigation or the handling of this matter.”

The statement also says that the “University of Regina takes all allegations of scholarly or academic misconduct very seriously. If an investigation determines that there has been academic or scholarly misconduct, then there is an appropriate penalty assessed and applied.”

What this penalty was, if there was one, is not clear, as the statement does not go into any detail whatsoever, citing privacy concerns.

“The University’s policy is to not release information about the decisions or penalties that result from an investigation into academic or scholarly misconduct, which is in accordance with The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act restrictions on the release of personal information.”

The dean of engineering, Esam Hussein, had the same response, citing privacy obligations and the aforementioned statement, and refused to grant an interview and even refused to meet the Carillon in person at his office.

This is not the first case of an engineering professor plagiarizing student work here. As the CBC reported in a November 2014 story entitled “Plagiarism allegation against U of R prof highlights growing problem,” a second engineering professor, Shahid Azam, landed in hot water over not properly crediting published work.

About Michael Chmielewski

I am a 4th political science student who loves reading, writing, studying languages, reporting, playing music (metal, if you got it), conversation, amongst many other eclectic interests. Proud to be in my second year as Editor-in-Chief of the Carillon, and even more proud of the amazing staff that I work with. Festina Lente.

One comment

  1. The university’s unwillingness to police its own ranks leaves open an opportunity for the defrauded student to sue the professor. Here’s hoping that he does.