Harvard defends plagiarism investigation of former president

A report to a congressional committee released Friday gave a more detailed account of Harvard University's handling of plagiarism allegations against Claudine Kay, who resigned as president this month.

The basics of the story are known, but Harvard has not released many details, leading to questions about the impartiality and rigor of its investigation.

In its account, Harvard defended the thoroughness of its plagiarism review. An outside panel found that Dr Kay's papers were “sophisticated and original”, with “no evidence to suggest the findings were deliberate”, even as it found a pattern of duplicate language in three papers.

But its account also shows a university administration that was slow to do a full accounting of his work. Instead, for weeks, Harvard scrambled to investigate the plagiarism allegations, unable to provide an immediate, official response to questions about Dr. Kay's scholarship.

The report is part of Harvard's extensive documentation submission December 20 letter From the House Committee on Education and Personnel investigating allegations of plagiarism and anti-Semitism against universities. The committee conducted an investigation into anti-Semitism on campus. In it Dr Kay and two college presidents were criticized for their legalistic responses to questions about anti-Semitism.

The committee said it is currently reviewing Harvard's submission. So far only the theft report has been made public.

Harvard's account begins on October 24, when a New York Post reporter approached the university about allegations of plagiarism.

Dr Kay, a political scientist, provided Harvard with a list of 25 passages from three articles he wrote that were allegedly plagiarized. One article is dated 1993, when she was a graduate student, and the others are from 2012 and 2017, when she was a faculty member, the report said.

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Harvard, according to the report, reached out to several faculty members accused of plagiarism — “none of whom objected to then-President Kay's language.”

The university formed a sub-committee to conduct the review with the help of lawyers. Subcommittee members include Petey Martin, former president of Amherst College; Mariano-Florentino Cuyler, former Justice of the California Supreme Court; Shirley Tilghman, former president of Princeton University; and Theodore V. Wells Jr. is a partner at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison.

The subcommittee then appointed a three-member external panel. The abstract describes the panel members as faculty members at major research institutions and two as former presidents of the American Political Science Association.

They have asked that their identities be kept confidential, Harvard said. But the House Committee, which has the power to present witnesses, may request their names.

The independent panel did not fully review Dr. Kay's work. It considered only the allegations shared by The Post and compared Dr. Kay's three articles with 11 articles by other scholars, the report said.

The panel found that “there is no evidence to support President Kay's deliberate claim of non-inventions.”

But it repeatedly raised concerns about the language's pattern. And to support his scholarship, Dr. K had to submit some corrections to the citation and citation.

The review, briefly, appeared to address the charges, and the Harvard Corporation, the university's governing body, approved his continued presidency.

But by then, new allegations had surfaced on social media, this time about Dr Kay's research paper. Harvard's account says the subcommittee reviewed his dissertation “immediately,” and Dr. K had to submit some revisions to it as well.

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On Dec. 19, an additional complaint was filed with Harvard's Office of Research Integrity, but the account said no additional corrections were required.

Two weeks later, she came out.

Harvard's account acknowledges the university did not handle the review well, saying the university is in crisis as it faces uproar over its handling of anti-Semitism on campus.

“These allegations arise at a time of unprecedented events and tension on campus and globally,” the statement said. “We understand and acknowledge that many feel that our efforts have not been transparent enough, raising questions about our process and the quality of the review.”

On Friday, Harvard announced new rules to curb student protests.

Harvard said in a news release shortly before the start of college classes on Monday that demonstrations would not be permitted in classrooms, libraries, dormitories or dining halls without a permit. Instead, protests are limited to “courtyards, quads and other spaces” and cannot prevent students from walking to class.

The explanation did not directly answer a question raised in the congressional inquiry that contributed to Dr. Kay's resignation: whether protesters were chanting slogans such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” – which many supporters of Israel interpret as a call. Destroying Israel – Against Harvard's Code of Conduct.

Annie Gurney Contributed report.

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