U. of Alberta dean faces plagiarism investigation
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Tuesday, June 14, 2011 12:12PM EDT
The University of Alberta's dean of medicine is under investigation for allegedly lifting parts of someone else's speech in an address to graduating students.
Dr. Philip Baker apologized for his "lapse of judgment" in a letter released Sunday night, stating he was inspired by the original text and used it in his own convocation speech last Friday in Edmonton.
Indira V. Samarasekera, University of Alberta president and vice-chancellor, said in a statement released Monday evening that the institution is in the process of examining allegations of plagiarism against Baker.
Samarasekera wrote, "Academic integrity is at the heart of this university, and must continue to be so. We will undertake our examination within a fair process and with due diligence."
The allegations came after some students recognized portions of Baker's speech as matching Dr. Atul Gawande's convocation address delivered last year at Stanford University in California.
Alexandria Eldridge, editor-in-chief for the University of Alberta's student newspaper, The Gateway, told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday that the students were able to pull up Gawande's speech on their smart phones and follow along.
"The tip off was the phrase velluvial matrix," she said. "Which, I think, was a phrase made up by Atul Gawande. Dr. Baker used that and that kind of tipped off some students."
Eldridge said because the university takes cases of plagiarism seriously Baker should either resign or face disciplinary action.
"I believe it reflects poorly on the integrity of the entire institution if this is not taken seriously," she said. "The same rule should apply for students as for professors. I don't think there should be any leeway given to him because he's a dean, if anything he should be treated more harshly because he's one of the ones who's dealing with plagiarism cases with students."
Baker was not available for an interview, but in his letter he claimed to have spoken with and apologized to Gawande.
Gawande told CTV.ca in an email that he wouldn't comment other than to say the situation is a matter between Dean Baker and the University of Alberta.
University spokesperson Deb Hammacher told The Canadian Press that the school takes academic integrity very seriously and has clear policies against plagiarism that apply to all students and staff.
However, any investigation will be hampered by a lack of evidence as the university didn't record Baker's speech.