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Columbia med DEI chief plagiarized from Wikipedia, other scholars: 55-page complaint

Plagiarized scholar says sections do amount to plagiarism

The chief diversity officer at Columbia University’s medical school plagiarized large chunks of his doctoral thesis from Wikipedia and other sources., a new complaint alleges.

Alade McKen is the latest elite university administrator to face plagiarism charges, following the downfall of Harvard University President Claudine Gay.

Harvard’s DEI chief Sherri Charleston also faces plagiarism allegations as does the school’s Extension School administrator, Shirley Greene.

McKen (pictured) “plagiarized extensively in his doctoral dissertation, lifting entire pages of material, without attribution, from sources that include Wikipedia,” The Washington Free Beacon reported. The complaint has been submitted to the university.

The Free Beacon reported:

The allegations implicate approximately a fifth of McKen’s 163-page dissertation, “‘UBUNTU’ I am because we are: A case study examining the experiences of an African-centered Rites of Passage program within a community-based organization,” submitted to Iowa State University’s School of Education in 2021. More than two of those pages are a near-verbatim facsimile of Wikipedia’s entry on “Afrocentric education,” which is not cited anywhere in the dissertation.

“Other pages lift paragraphs from well-known African scholars, including the University of Rwanda’s Chika Ezeanya-Esiobu, while making small tweaks to their prose, such as reordering certain clauses or changing a ‘were’ to a ‘was.’” the Free Beacon reported.

Ezeanya-Esiobu said the copied portions amount to plagiarism.

“The passages you shared can definitely be classified as plagiarism,” the professor told the Free Beacon.

McKen has a 202-word section that is almost verbatim to a text Ezeanya-Esiobu wrote, except for minor changes, such as changing “which” to “that.”

Ezeanya-Esiobu is not included in the bibliography or in-text citations at all.

McKen took his latest role in September 2023. He previously worked as “assistant dean of recruitment, diversity, and inclusion for the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation,” according to a university news release.

The medical school warns students not to plagiarize.

Med students “may not cheat, plagiarize, use unauthorized materials, misrepresent their work, paraphrase an author’s ideas or work without proper citation, falsify data or assist others in the commission of these acts,” according to the university’s “Plagiarism and Misrepresentation” page.

“Student work should be original and may not be copied and pasted without attribution,” the university states.

“This applies to admission notes, progress notes, discharge summaries, written papers, scholarly work and personal statements for residency.”

MORE: Billionaire CEO announces MIT plagiarism probe

IMAGE: Columbia University Irving Medical Center

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.