Harvard Releases Account of its Handling of Plagiarism Accusations Against Claudine Gay

by Xara Aziz
YouTube via CNN/Getty Images

Harvard University has provided a report to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, giving a detailed account of how it handled the plagiarism allegations against Claudine Gay, the university’s former president who resigned earlier this month.

While details of the report were not disclosed, an outside panel found that Dr. Gay’s papers were “sophisticated and original” and found “virtually no evidence of intentional claiming of findings.” 

The report, though, outlined that Harvard’s governing board was slow to conduct a full investigation of her work. Instead, a slapdash query into Dr. Gay’s scholarship led the board to err in responding to inquiries about her work.

The congressional committee is currently conducting a probe into plagiarism and antisemitism accusations against several of the nation’s universities. The same committee was the one that held the now-infamous hearing, where Dr. Gay and two other presidents – the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sally Kornbluth and M. Elizabeth Magill formerly with the University of Pennsylvania, who were all condemned for answers to questions about antisemitism. The latter has since resigned. 

Only one plagiarism report has been publicly released, according to the committee, which also said that it is currently reviewing Harvard’s submission. 

The submission began on Oct. 24, when a reporter with the New York Post contacted Harvard about accusations of plagiarism Since then, the publication listed 25 excerpts accusing Dr. Gay of plagiarism, namely three articles, written in 1993, 2012 and 2017.

Following Dr. Gay’s resignation, it has been announced she will return to campus as a professor of Government and of African and African-American Studies, a role she took on before becoming president. In an Op-Ed published in The New York Times, the political scientist said: “Having now seen how quickly the truth can become a casualty amid controversy, I’d urge a broader caution: At tense moments, every one of us must be more skeptical than ever of the loudest and most extreme voices in our culture, however well organized or well connected they might be. Too often they are pursuing self-serving agendas that should be met with more questions and less credulity.”

She continued: “College campuses in our country must remain places where students can learn, share and grow together, not spaces where proxy battles and political grandstanding take root. Universities must remain independent venues where courage and reason unite to advance truth, no matter what forces set against them.”

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