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New plagiarism allegations hit Harvard president as Congress launches investigation

Washington Post editor also calls for president to resign as Harvard loses another billionaire donor

Amid a recent spate of plagiarism accusations, Harvard University recently received a new 37-page complaint outlining over 40 allegations of plagiarism against its president, Claudine Gay.

The complaint, given to Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences Research Integrity Officer on Dec. 19, was filed one day before the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce launched a review of Harvard’s handling of the plagiarism accusations.

The committee cites the school’s honor code and the federal funding it receives “conditioned upon the school’s adherence to the standards of a recognized accreditor.”

“Our concern is that standards are not being applied consistently, resulting in different rules for different members of the academic community,” wrote North Carolina Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx, chair of the committee.

“If a university is willing to look the other way and not hold faculty accountable for engaging in academically dishonest behavior, it cheapens its mission and the value of its education. Students must be evaluated fairly, under known standards — and have a right to see that faculty are, too.”

The committee told Harvard to hand over all “documents and communications concerning allegations of plagiarism by President Gay and the University’s public response to media inquiries about those allegations.”

The committee and the complaint both question Harvard’s apparent threat of a defamation lawsuit against the New York Post in October when the publication first tried to report on the issue.

According to Post reporter Isabel Vincent, in late October, the outlet anonymously received and personally analyzed 27 instances of suspected plagiarism in three of Gay’s papers published from 1993 to 2017.

On Oct. 24, the newspaper contacted the university “asking for comment on more than two dozen instances in which Gay’s words appeared to closely parallel words, phrases or sentences in published works by other academics.”

Three days later, the Post received a “15-page letter by Thomas Clare, a high-powered Virginia-based attorney with the firm Clare-Locke who identified himself as defamation counsel for Harvard University and Gay.”

According to the complaint, the college’s actions against the Post violate Harvard’s research misconduct policy, and the individuals involved in the decisions should be “investigated” as well.

The identity of the complainant—a professor at another university— requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, according to the Washington Free Beacon, which first reported on it.

According to a Dec. 12 letter from the university, Gay’s work has been investigated and cleared. It stated an internal review determined there was “no violation of Harvard’s standards for research misconduct,” although “a few instances of inadequate citation” were found.

However, the complaint pointed out it “is impossible that your office has already reviewed the entirety of these materials as many examples below have not been previously reported or submitted to Harvard.”

One scholar who has been a visiting professor at Harvard in the past said he believes the problem runs deeper than what’s been revealed so far.

“What’s happening at Harvard right now goes beyond Claudine Gay’s plagiarism and her refusal to support Jewish students from calls for genocide,” said Bradley Thompson, a political science professor at Clemson University.

“The problem with Harvard today is Harvard. The Corporation, administration, and faculty are dominated by a cult of mediocrity that is driven by an extremist, far-left-wing ideology,” he told The Fix via email this week.

Harvard has lost many big-dollar donors over the last three months, most recently billionaire Len Blavatnik, because of how Gay shrugged off questions from Congress about calls for the genocide of Jews on campus, as well as the Ivy League institution’s lackluster condemnation of terrorism after Hamas slaughtered more than 1,200 Israelis, including women and children, in October.

Harvard’s media affairs division did not respond to requests from The College Fix seeking comment.

Higher education reform activist Christopher Rufo, along with journalist Chris Brunet, co-authored the initial report on Substack accusing Gay of plagiarism earlier this month.

More recently, Rufo posted on X that he gained exclusive access to new evidence of alleged plagiarism, “bringing the total to 41 instances across 8 papers over a 30-year time horizon.”

Rep. Foxx, in her letter, pointed out Harvard’s ability to deal with plagiarism among students, noting dozens of students found guilty last year were put on academic probation or mandatory withdrawal.

In a meeting last week, several Harvard professors told two Harvard Corporation board members, Tracy Palandijian, the CEO of a nonprofit financial consultancy, and Paul Finnegan, an investor and philanthropist, that the board needed to “do more” to address donor and alumni concerns, the New York Times reported.

“If people are saying the university is making mistakes — they are talking about you,” Jeff Flier, the former dean of Harvard Medical School, said he told the pair during the conversation.

Even the left-leaning associate editor of the Washington Post, Ruth Marcus, who has said she believes the claims against Gay involve “conservative ideology” with “no small dose of racism and the conviction that a Black woman couldn’t possibly be qualified to lead Harvard,” is now calling for the president to resign.

“The instances of problematic citation in the work of Gay, a political scientist, have become too many to ignore. Some go well beyond routine use of the same language,” Marcus wrote in a Dec. 23 op-ed. “Her track record is unbefitting the president of the country’s premier university. Remaining on the job would send a bad signal to students about the gravity of her conduct.”

MORE: Harvard, Penn lose major donors after botching response to Hamas invasion of Israel

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About the Author
Blake Mauro -- Clemson University