‘She Cheated Me’: Ex-Administrator Responds To Harvard President’s Alleged Plagiarism


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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Vanderbilt professor Dr. Carol Swain spoke with radio host Joe Pags Tuesday about Harvard University President Claudine Gay allegedly plagiarizing her work.

During the 16-minute long interview, Swain broke down exactly what happened the night she found out Harvard’s President Gay had allegedly plagiarized her work and went on to a prolific career despite her actions. Swain said she was completely unaware of the alleged similarities until Dec. 17, when a friend and well-known financial expert called her to let her know Gay had allegedly used Swain’s work in published materials as if it were the Harvard president’s own.

“Until then, I was not aware of the controversy, nor had I read her dissertation, or followed her work,” Swain explained to Pags. “I didn’t realize how closely her work paralleled my work. And initially, I did not want to rush to judgment.” When people asked her about it initially, Swain simply said “imitation is the highest form of flattery” and that there was clearly a problem with Gay’s dissertation committee and other coworkers who allowed her to allegedly claim Swain’s work as her own. (RELATED: Harvard President’s ‘Flimsy’ Record And Plagiarism Allegations Set Her Apart From Her Prodigious Predecessors)

Swain said she stopped giving the Harvard president the benefit of the doubt after she read deeply into a load of Gay’s previously published materials. “She would have a citation in the bibliography but there was no way, if you were reading her work, you would you know that she was building on my work,” Swain continued. The works in question were some of Swain’s first representation of black Americans in Congress, which went on to win a slew of literary prizes and garnered critical acclaim at the time.

“I was sad on Monday when I realized that [Gay] had plagiarized. But I was sad for myself because I felt like she cheated me out of citations, and in academia, citations matter,” Swain continued. “If she’s not citing my work adequately, then other people are not aware of it.”

By Tuesday, Swain was livid, especially as Harvard decided to stand behind Gay despite the ripple effects of her alleged plagiarism. Swan accused Harvard of trying to redefine the very meaning of “plagiarism,” just to protect Gay. “She’s not going to be held accountable,” Swain said. (RELATED: ‘A White Male Would Probably Already Be Gone’: Scholar Speaks Out After Harvard President Gay Accused Of Plagiarism)

Aside from the alleged plagiarism, Swain claimed none of the articles she read by Gay were good enough to have earned the Harvard president her position anyway, calling them “mediocre in the Ivy League.”

Swain claimed many of the ideas Gay had allegedly “stolen” were from people at other notable universities and her work was allegedly almost “verbatim” from other authors.