OSU panel confirms plagiarism; university puts halt to teaching


An Oklahoma State University committee of senior faculty members has determined that a professor committed plagiarism, and the university decided on sanctions, including not allowing the professor to teach, the professor said.

George O. Carney, a regents professor of geography, was accused of plagiarizing throughout his 36-year career at OSU in the Dec. 17 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. After the Chronicle raised the allegations, OSU began its own investigation.

A letter from Stephen McKeever, OSU's vice president for research and technology transfer, said OSU would not allow Carney to teach or to advise students and said OSU would take away his title of regents professor, Carney said.

That title is given to professors who make "outstanding contributions" to their disciplines and who have received national recognition for "academic or research contributions and participation in professional societies," according to OSU's policy.

Gary Shutt, OSU's director of communication services, said OSU made a decision in the case, but he would not say what the committee decided or what, if any, sanctions OSU would levy against Carney.

"For privacy reasons, until he has a chance to respond to that letter, we can't say any more about it," Shutt said.

Carney said he received the letter about Feb. 12; OSU's policy gives him 15 days from that date to appeal the determination and the sanctions.

"I'm going to have to think about it and consult some other people about it before I make that decision," he said.

Regardless of the ruling, Carney said, he probably would not be teaching because of a stroke he had in December 2002. The stroke reduced his vision, which has kept him from driving, and he can no longer operate classroom audiovisual equipment.

Carney, 62, has not taught since Jan. 13 and has applied to receive permanent disability benefits.

Carney said he doesn't think he plagiarized.

"All that evidence that they brought out against me, I don't remember," he said. Later, he said, "If I did commit plagiarism, which they say I did, I certainly didn't intend for it to be a source of embarrassment."

Carney said his service and positive contributions to OSU should have weighed more heavily on the decision. The alleged plagiarism accounts for a small amount of his work over many years, he said.

"I think the penalties that they assessed are maybe a little bit harsh, considering the crime, if you want to call it a crime, or the allegations."

April Marciszewski 581-8475