Manchester neuroscientist resigns

Annmarie Surprenant, the scholar accused of marking irregularities, stands down. Melanie Newman reports

September 4, 2009

A professor accused of forging a second marker’s signature on examination papers has resigned.

Annmarie Surprenant, professor of neuroscience at the University of Manchester, faced disciplinary charges after a colleague claimed that she had not marked 80 undergraduate life science final papers properly and had forged the signature of the second marker.

Concerns were also raised about her marking of pharmacy students’ exams earlier in the year.

Professor Surprenant denied the charges, telling Times Higher Education last month: “No student has ever been inaccurately or unfairly graded by me.”

She added that every exam paper had been double-graded and “diligently and accurately annotated and marked”.

But a preliminary investigation by the university found that there was a case to answer. The professor was suspended in August and asked to appear before an internal disciplinary panel to answer misconduct charges. She resigned on 4 September.

In 1994, Professor Surprenant resigned from her post at the Oregon Health & Science University’s Vollum Institute after admitting she had misrepresented her qualifications on grant applications to the US Government.

Her critics have pointed out that her academic career since then has been made up of a series of posts at institutions that also employed her husband, Alan North, the current vice-president and dean of the faculty of medical and human sciences at Manchester.

A spokesman for the institution said: “Professor Annmarie Surprenant was employed by the university from 1 March 2007 and resigned from her appointment with effect from 4 September 2009. In this connection, the university has satisfied itself that no student has been advantaged or disadvantaged.”

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