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Triton Women: Making an Impact

In honor of Women’s History month, This Week is featuring a series of stories highlighting UC San Diego female faculty, staff, students and alumnae and the difference they are making in the world

Tricia Bertram Gallant, Ph.D.

Tricia Bertram Gallant from UC San Diego

Tricia Bertram Gallant is Director of UC San Diego’s Academic Integrity Office. Photo by Marcy Zimmerman

She works as… director of the UC San Diego Academic Integrity Office. “Students are human beings; they are going to make bad decisions under stress and pressure. Our job is to help develop ethical citizens and professionals.”

Her impact on campus … is shifting perception about integrity, from the notion that people who cheat should be punished to it being a teaching and learning issue. She pioneered this idea in her book, “Academic Integrity in the Twenty-First Century: A Teaching and Learning Imperative.”

A motto to live by … “Excel with Integrity.”

Visit the Academic Integrity Office in the heart of campus, and you’ll see students gathered in a comfortable lounge studying, playing games and talking. It’s a community and a place to hang out, and that’s exactly how Tricia Bertram Gallant likes it.

Academic integrity wasn’t on her mind in 2002 when she was searching for a dissertation topic as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of San Diego. “I was asked to help the dean of Arts and Humanities with a conference on academic integrity and I had never heard that phrase before,” said Bertram Gallant. “He suggested I write my dissertation about the subject. It opened my eyes—I saw great opportunities for new theories and new ways of looking at the issue.”

She had just earned her Ph.D. when UC San Diego’s Academic Senate decided the university needed a person focused on academic integrity. The timing was right, and she was hired. Over the past 12 years, the program has grown, based on demand and the movement of the campus.

student discussion UC San Diego

Student Peer Educators are the daily integrity champions on campus. Photo by UC San Diego Academic Integrity Office

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently featured UC San Diego in a case study: “How One College Promotes Honesty in the Classroom.” The publication notes, “Bertram Gallant and her office aim to create a culture on campus and in the classroom where honesty is valued and where students don’t cheat—not out of fear of getting caught—but because they choose not to. It’s an idea that’s gaining traction in higher education.”

UC San Diego’s program, which started in 2006, is the only one in the University of California system and is often held up as a model of that approach. “Tricia is at the forefront of the work in academic integrity,” said Holly Tatum, a professor of psychology at Randolph College, who has written on honor codes. “It’s very evidence-based and uses research she and others have done to inform the policy.”

Bertram Gallant and her staff manage the campus academic integrity policy and process; train student leaders to serve as peer advisors, educators, and mentors; and run a one-of-a-kind academic integrity proctor pool. They also teach ethical decision-making and acting; conduct bystander intervention training with faculty, staff and students; and coach faculty on how to remake their classrooms to better facilitate integrity and learning. Learn more about the UC San Diego Academic Integrity Office here.