Review: Poshard didn't plagiarize, should update dissertation

Friday, October 12, 2007
Southern Illinois University president Glenn Poshard and his wife, Jo, listened Thursday as a board of trustees member read the resolution accepting recommendations of the faculty review committee in Carbondale, Ill. The review panel said Thursday that Poshard's 1984 doctoral dissertation included "inadvertent or unintended" plagiarism that can be easily remedied without costing him his job. The university's board of trustees agreed that Poshard would stay put. (CHUCK NOVARA ~ The Southern Illinoisan)

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University's president didn't plagiarize parts of his 1984 doctoral dissertation but should revise it to conform with current academic standards, a review panel said Thursday.

Glenn Poshard also should keep his job, the panel said.

"While the [citation] style was agreed to between Dr. Poshard and his dissertation committee at that time, it would not be recommended today," said Ramanarayanan Viswanathan, the school's Faculty Senate president who headed the panel.

Fernando Trevino, chancellor of the 20,000-student campus here, tapped members of three key faculty groups for the review panel that examined allegations Poshard plagiarized parts of his dissertation from the school.

In its report released Thursday, the panel recommended Poshard publicly recognize the dissertation's incomplete citations and correct them using current standards.

Poshard said he accepted the report and its recommendations.

"The members of this committee are individuals of integrity and credibility, and I appreciate their service to the university," he said. "I take full responsibility for the inadvertent errors that I made 23 years ago."

The plagiarism allegations surfaced Aug. 30 when SIU's student newspaper, The Daily Egyptian, reported that at least 30 sections in Poshard's 111-page doctoral dissertation were not attributed to their original sources or put in quotation marks to show they weren't Poshard's writing.

On Sept. 10, The Chronicle of Higher Education also reported Poshard's master's thesis contained sentences found nearly verbatim in sources published earlier, without attribution.

'Clearly unintentional'

Viswanathan said the panel focused the vast majority of its attention on the dissertation because there were only a few minor questions on the master's thesis.

In its report, presented Thursday to SIU's board of trustees, the panel said its review "must be understood in its historical context."

"Our examination of some theses and dissertations completed in Dr. Poshard's department in the same general time period, found that the citation style he used appears to have been commonly accepted by different dissertation committees in his college," the report said.

Roger Tedrick, chairman of SIU's board of trustees, said Poshard has "acknowledged that mistakes were made, but they were clearly unintentional then and certainly correctable to academic expectations now."

Tedrick also said Poshard, a former five-term congressman and one-time Democratic candidate for Illinois governor, would remain the university's president "with full board support."

"His integrity is unquestioned and his energy, passion and commitment to this university unsurpassed," Tedrick said.

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