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Case Study Analysis


This case study by Pasque and Kennedy (2009) is several years old but presents an all-too-familiar issue of ethics in higher education. It is presented here with permission from the authors, editors, and publisher.


Assignment Details: Students will identify the ethical issues inherent in the case study, the applicable professional standards involved, and use an ethical decision-making model in resolving the dilemma(s). The case study, references, and questions for discussion (see below) are offered here as an educational tool to foster discussions on issues of ethics in higher education.


A Quick Wink: A Case Study about Sexual Harassment in Higher Education (Pasque & Kennedy, 2009)


The department of Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) at State University (SU), a land-grant institution, has a reputation for creating a cohesive, collaborative environment among faculty members and graduate students. The 10 full-time faculty members admit approximately six Ph.D. and 15 M.A. students each fall. A number of well-respected leaders in the student affairs profession have graduated from HESA, including faculty members, senior student affairs administrators, and university presidents.


Every 5 years, HESA sponsors a “welcome home” reception for all current and past HESA faculty, staff, and students during SU’s homecoming week. Prominent alumni often attend, turning the reception into a “who’s who” event. HESA uses the reception as an opportunity to solicit donations, which have become critical in helping the department achieve its fundraising goals. Myrna and Jodie are first year HESA doctoral students. Myrna is interested in studying student identity development as it relates to service learning and often utilizes her own identities as a working class, able-bodied, Latina as examples to explain her perspectives in class. Myrna’s closest friend and classmate, Jodie, graduated at the top of her Master’s cohort and her GRE scores were in the top 5th percentile in the country. She identifies as a White, middle class, now legally blind woman (due to a progressive and degenerative eye disease) who was enthusiastic about entering the HESA program because of its strong reputation for academic rigor. Jodie was appointed to work on a research project with Dr. Paige, a prominent faculty member in HESA who joined the faculty four The ACPA Ethics Committee offers case studies in higher education and other resources on ethics at www.myacpa.org years ago as a new assistant professor and recently learned that he had been awarded a $3.5 million federal research grant, the largest ever received by an individual HESA faculty member. The grant came at a crucial time as federal and state allocations to SU were in decline. Myrna and Jodie were both enrolled in Dr. Paige’s introductory course this semester.


Myrna and Jodie were excited to attend the HESA “welcome home” reception that fall, and quickly realized that Dr. Paige’s grant was the highlight of the evening. Faculty members and alumni were enthusiastically congratulating him. Myrna and Jodie noted how proud Dr. Paige seemed, and they went to offer their own congratulations. Myrna shook Dr. Paige’s hand and congratulated him, and she noticed the pungent smell of liquor as he leaned over, smiled, and thanked her. Myrna asked if he had seen a recent article related to his area of research, and Myrna watched him slowly step in front of Jodie as she was speaking. After acknowledging that he had seen the article as well, Dr. Paige brought his face close to Myrna’s and said, smiling, “I’m glad you’re following this line of research, too. With this grant, I’m going to be collecting and analyzing all kinds of data, and there’s no time like the present to get serious. Why don’t you work with me on this grant? Since I have money, I can hire you, and my office at home has a great set up. It would be long hours, often at night. What do you say? If you need to think about it, you can let me know next Monday at class.” He smiled again and quickly winked at Myrna before turning to greet an alumnus who had tapped him on the shoulder. When Dr. Paige moved away, Myrna saw that Jodie was looking at her quizzically.


Pasque, P. A., & Kennedy, D. (2009). A quick wink. In F. A. Hamrick & M. Benjamin (Eds.), Maybe I should: Case studies of ethics for student affairs professionals (pp. 156-158). University Press of America.


Prepare an APA paper with a minimum of 5 pages, 1500 words, not counting Title page and References page; no Abstract is required. Address the following questions. Please remember to justify your position(s) and include a reference section with at least three sources.


What is the issue?

What is the goal of the analysis?

What is the context of the problem?

What key facts should be considered?

What alternatives are available to the decision-maker?

What would you recommend — and why?

What legal precedence supports your recommendations?


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