A professor at Arizona State University (ASU) has announced he will step down several months after it was revealed he plagiarized Wikipedia for a textbook he wrote. But although the professor is leaving immediately, his resignation won’t take effect until 2017, and in the meantime school officials will pay him about $200,000 in salary.
Matthew Whitaker was a full professor of history at ASU and the founding director of the school’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. But after repeated complaints from Whitaker’s fellow academics as well as an anonymous blog, the school was compelled to investigate Whitaker’s textbook “Peace Be Still: Modern Black America from World War II to Barack Obama.” A close look at the book revealed that entire passages appeared to have been substantially cribbed from websites like Infoplease without any attribution. Whitaker claimed the copied passages occurred because he was “careless.”
The revelations led to Whitaker relinquishing a $268,000 contract he had with the city of Phoenix to provide “cultural consciousness training” to police officers.
After an initial investigation of the claims against Whitaker, ASU chose to demote him to associate professor and put him on leave. Now, he’s on his way out entirely, as the school has announced his upcoming departure.
But Whitaker won’t be leaving without his pound of flesh. Under the terms of a settlement reached with ASU, Whitaker will remain on the school’s payroll until May 2017, allowing him to draw his six-figure salary as well as enjoy all related benefits such as health insurance. During that time, he will have no authority, no office, and apparently no responsibilities.
According to the Phoenix New Times, Whitaker has announced that for the next year, instead of working for ASU he will be focused on the work of The Whitaker Group, a consulting firm he runs.
Despite the expense, it may be a worthwhile deal for ASU to make. Under the deal, Whitaker will drop a discrimination complaint he lodged with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
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