Glenn Poshard claims he was ignorant that a dissertation should not be plagiarised!!
This semester I am teaching two courses with considerable research components. One course is called “Capitalism, Socialism & Social Justice,” and the other is a Senior Seminar: “War, Free Speech and Academic Freedom.” The first course requires a seven to ten page research paper and the latter an 18-22 page research paper. I always try to communicate exactly what plagiarism is and in a non-threatening manner to indicate that plagiarism is a serious academic offence that is all too prevalent throughout academia: professors, students and at least one university president.
In one class, a student told me he had transferred from Southern Illinois University and commented on the Poshard case. I indicated that I felt considerable empathy for those S.I.U. professors who strive to serve as role models and instruct students in the appropriate methodologies and best practices in scholarly discourse. I told them they have an extra burden when a board of trustees and a sycophantic faculty committee explicitly condone or excuse such conduct. S.I.U. is apparently unmoved by the fact they retain a corrupt president who lacks honour and integrity as revealed by serial cheating throughout his graduate tenure at the main Carbondale campus.
Last night with my senior seminar, I carefully explained what plagiarism is and why it is such a serious infraction. I used the Poshard disgrace as a poignant example that those who steal other’s scholarship or who claim authorship for work that they did not create, should not be allowed to correct merely the errors as if plagiarism is a minor or tangential issue. Those who demonstrate such a cynical approach to research methodology and the pursuit of truth, in cheating the enterprise of higher education, should suffer consequences other than the “nuisance” of resubmission. I felt an electric atmosphere in the seminar when I stated that Mr Poshard claims that he was too preoccupied in the 1980s with family and political ambitions to engage in legitimate scholarship or that he was unaware of what constituted plagiarism. Several chuckled and wondered how a graduate student at the stage of a doctoral dissertation could simply take a few books and articles and merely copy them and then submit a dissertation with his name on it.
I averred if Mr Poshard were ignorant of even rudimentary practices in scholarship while a doctoral candidate, which I stated was not credible, he surely must have acquired some basic knowledge of higher education in the intervening decades including his tenure as president of the second largest university system in Illinois. Therefore, he should have resigned when he became cognizant that plagiarism is a disgrace and a blot on the good name of an individual and the institution that he or she is associated. I believe that the likelihood of plagiarism in my courses will be reduced since so many students were made aware of my online condemnation of this fraudulent, unethical and supremely arrogant president.
So while S.I.U. cannot muster the courage to dismiss or fire an academic imposter, I can say that Glenn Poshard’s egregious misconduct has contributed to the import of communicating to my students the need to claim carefully authorship for only writing that does not inappropriately utilise another’s labours.