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New complaint alleges Harvard DEI chief plagiarized husband’s study, numerous other writings

‘Quotes or paraphrases nearly a dozen scholars without proper attribution,’ complaint alleges 

Another high-ranking Harvard University administrator is facing plagiarism accusations less than a month after former President Claudine Gay resigned due to similar allegations.

Harvard Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Sherri Ann Charleston allegedly took credit for another scholar’s research and “extensively” plagiarized several others throughout her academic work, according to a new Washington Free Beacon investigation based on a complaint recently filed with the school.

“Experts who reviewed the allegations against Charleston said that they ranged from minor plagiarism to possible data fraud and warrant an investigation,” the Beacon reported.

Charleston has worked at the Ivy League university since 2020 and participated in the hiring of Gay, who resigned in early January, the Harvard Crimson reported. Charleston is “the first person to hold the newly formed position of CDIO,” the university stated in a June 2020 news release announcing her hiring.

An anonymous complaint submitted Monday to the university and published by the Free Beacon outlines 40 alleged examples of plagiarism in Charleston’s published writings, including her 2009 dissertation to the University of Michigan. Her dissertation “quotes or paraphrases nearly a dozen scholars without proper attribution,” according to the Beacon, which also provides numerous graphics that illustrate the similar wording side by side.

The 37-page complaint also lists the similar passages next to each other with the nearly verbatim sections highlighted in yellow.

The most egregious allegations involve “her sole peer-reviewed journal article—coauthored with her husband, LaVar Charleston, in 2014” in which “the couple recycle much of a 2012 study published by LaVar Charleston, the deputy vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, framing the old material as new research,” the Beacon reported.

Published in the Journal of Negro Education, the 2014 article had “the same methods, findings, and description of survey subjects as the 2012 study, which involved interviews with black computer science students and was first published by the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education,” according to the report.

The Free Beacon report continued:

Papers that omit a few citations or quotation marks rarely receive more than a correction, experts said. But when scholars recycle large chunks of a previous study—especially its data or conclusions—without attribution, the duplicate paper is often retracted and can even violate copyright law.

The Journal of Negro Education, as well as Sherri Ann Charleston and LaVar Charleston, did not respond to the Beacon’s requests for comment.

Charleston’s bio on the Harvard website describes her as an attorney and a historian who is known as “one of the nation’s leading experts in diversity and higher education.”

Prior to her role at Harvard, Charleston was the assistant vice provost for DEI and “chief affirmative action officer” at the University of Wisconsin UW-Madison, Harvard stated in a June 2020 news release announcing her hiring.

Harvard has faced a lot of criticism in recent months for its handling of antisemitism and plagiarism allegations, among other things. In early January, Gay resigned after less than a year on the job after being accused of plagiarism. She also was criticized for her remarks to Congress about antisemitism on campus.

The university initially investigated and dismissed the plagiarism accusations. Later, however, a watchdog organization filed a complaint with Harvard’s accreditation group, asking for an investigation into “Harvard’s apparent violation of its own established procedures in the investigation of the alleged plagiarism committed by Dr. Gay,” The College Fix reported.

This month, Harvard also was sued by six Jewish students who say the university is allowing “rampant” antisemitism to continue.

MORE: Black scholar plagiarized by Harvard’s Gay sends legal demand letter: ‘unlawful copying’

IMAGE: Harvard University/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.