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Damning complaint accuses Harvard's DEI czar Sherri Charleston of extensive plagiarism
YouTube video, Harvard University Graduate Commons - Screenshot

Damning complaint accuses Harvard's DEI czar Sherri Charleston of extensive plagiarism

Harvard's plagiarism problem shows no signs of going away — and that's not just because its disgraced former president Claudine Gay remains on the faculty. A new complaint filed Monday with the university suggests that affirmative action expert Sherri Ann Charleston, the university's chief diversity and inclusion officer, might be another resident plagiarist.

The complaint obtained by the Washington Free Beacon identifies 40 examples of alleged plagiarism in two of Charleston's academic works, beginning with her 2009 dissertation.

"Charleston's dissertation contains a lot of other scholars' language verbatim without quotation marks," says the complaint. "Parts of Charleston's dissertation were published previously, word for word, by her advisor, Rebecca Scott, and others. Charleston will lift whole sentences and paragraphs from other scholars' work without quotation marks, then add a correct reference somewhere in the footnote ending the long paragraph."

When Harvard's plagiarism scandal was coming to a head in December, Dr. Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, underscored the significance of a plagiarized dissertation to New College of Florida board member Christopher Rufo: "What does it mean if the Ph.D. dissertation is plagiarized? It means that the credential is based on falsehoods. It is, in effect, counterfeit currency."

"It has long been the practice of many universities to revoke the degrees of people later found to have plagiarized their dissertations or who committed research fraud on their way to the Ph.D.," added Wood.

Charleston said in a 2021 speech to Harvard students, "The dissertation is not your masterpiece. The dissertation is only and will always only be a demonstration of your ability to conduct original research. Period. Don't try to be great."

The complaint filed Monday against Charleston notes further that at least 20% of the DEI czar's only peer-reviewed article — which she supposedly helped her husband, LaVar Charleston, write — had been published two years prior in a 2012 Journal of Diversity in Higher Education paper.

The complaint notes that there is no acknowledgement in Charleston's 2014 paper "that it is substantially a reprint of the 2012 journal article by LaVar Charleston."

The overlap between the two papers is uncanny — so much so that the duplication may reportedly even violate copyright law. In addition to language, the DEI czar's 2014 paper recycled the methods, findings, and survey subject descriptions from her husband's previous paper.

"About 2/3 of the section entitled 'Findings' in the 2014 paper was previously published as the 'Conclusion' to the 2012 paper," said the complaint. "What the 2012 study described as its 'major findings' are practically identical to what the 2014 study described as its 'results.'"

Steve McGuire, former political theory professor at Villanova University, suggested that "Sherri Charleston appears to have used somebody else's research without proper attribution."

"The 2014 paper appears to be entirely counterfeit," Peter Wood told the Free Beacon. "This is research fraud, pure and simple."

Charleston received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan and her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

After first serving as the assistant vice provost for DEI and chief affirmative action officer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she was named DEI czar at Harvard on June 22, 2020.

At the time of her appointment, former Harvard president Lawrence Bacow — Gay's immediate predecessor — touted Charleston as an "interdisciplinary scholar whose work at the intersection of history and law informs her efforts to translate theory into practice that improves higher education."

When celebrating Charleston's "scholarship," Bacow did not give partial credit to LaVar Charleston.

The Free Beacon indicated that an expert review of the allegations against the DEI czar turned up everything from minor plagiarism to possible data fraud.

It is unclear whether Charleston will take a page out of Claudine Gay's book and similarly resign in disgrace.

Gay stepped down on Jan. 2 after being hit with nearly 50 plagiarism allegations implicating seven of her 17 published works, including her 1997 doctoral thesis.

Gay painted herself as a victim, claiming in her resignation letter that she found it frightening "to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus."

Charleston, her husband, and the Journal of Negro Education reportedly did not respond to the Free Beacon's requests for comment.

Charleston and Gay are not the only so-called scholars at Harvard who have been accused of academic improprieties this month.

Blaze News recently reported that four research scientists with faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School were accused earlier this month of manipulating data in their published research.

The four academics accused were Laurie Glimcher, CEO of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, one of Harvard's teaching hospitals; William Hahn, the institute's COO; Irene Ghobrial, director of the Clinical Investigator Research Program; and Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center program director Dr. Kenneth Anderson.

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute indicated last week that there were retractions under way for six manuscripts and that another 31 were flagged as "warranting corrections."

GradFest 2021 Keynote - Dr. Sherri Ann Charlestonyoutu.be

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Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.
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