Madonna G. Constantine, a tenured professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College, will keep her job, despite an internal investigation that shows she plagiarized the work of two former students and a fellow professor, in a decision that mirrors recent incidents at Harvard Law School.
The graduate school of education announced last week that it has reprimanded Constantine, but Marcia Horowitz, a spokeswoman for the college, declined to comment on the nature of the penalty due to the issue’s ongoing process.
“The specific sanctions were serious,” she said.
In a statement released last week, the college affirmed that the school “takes academic plagiarism very seriously, and must take appropriate disciplinary action when it is uncovered.”
“Such misconduct is completely at odds with the ethos of our institution, our faculty and our students,” the statement read.
Constantine has maintained her innocence regarding the charges, accusing Teachers College President Susan H. Fuhrman of trying to force her to resign and calling the charges and subsequent investigation “a conspiracy and witch-hunt by certain current and former members of the Teachers College community.”
Though Constantine is one of only two tenured black women at the school, Horowitz dismissed allegations of racism.
“The college has zero tolerance for racism, discrimination, or prejudice of any kind,” Horowitz said. “And the college says that racism had no bearing on the way the investigation was conducted or on the findings.”
This is not the first time in recent memory that a reputable university has refused to dismiss a professor for plagiarism.
In Sept. 2004, Harvard constitutional law scholar Laurence H. Tribe ’62 apologized for not properly citing another professor’s work in his 1985 book, “God Save This Honorable Court.” That same year, law professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr. admitted to lifting six paragraphs in his book, “All Deliberate Speed,” from a Yale professor. And in Oct. 2006, The Crimson uncovered another incident of plagiarism in Ogletree’s book, citing a paragraph that contained wording from a 1996 work by a University of California-San Diego civil rights scholar.