Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Research Institute Director, two professors at UCF face bribery allegations in Ph.D scandal

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The director of the Institute for Simulation and Training and two faculty members are in the process of being fired from the University of Central Florida after a lengthy bribery investigation, the university announced.

Dr. Randy Shumaker and two UCF professors — Lauren Reinerman-Jones and Daniel Baker — are facing termination after being accused of helping a student obtain a Ph.D. in exchange for grant funds, according to university officials.

The allegations are outlined in a 100-plus-page report that is heavily redacted.

U.S. Navy Capt. Wes Naylor will serve as interim director of IST, and a national search for a new director will begin immediately.

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The university said it will strip the student involved of his doctoral degree as a result of the investigation.

In a written statement, UCF interim president Thad Seymour said, “We cannot allow the actions of a few to hurt our students’ honest efforts to pursue life-changing degrees or undermine the work of its faculty and staff whose research helps drive one of our region’s signature industries.”

Graduate degrees awarded in the program are providing additional education and training on conflicts of interest to IST faculty and staff, the university said.

While no cybersecurity breaches were found, a university-wide group is working to ensure the school is following new federal guidelines for protecting information systems.

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