ASU prof placed on administrative leave following plagiarism charges

Matthew Whitaker

A faculty member at Arizona State University has been placed on leave while the university investigates charges against him.

According to a spokesperson for ASU, Matthew Whitaker

has been placed on administrative leave and relieved of all duties. The University will follow Arizona Board of Regents policy as it reviews allegations that his conduct has fallen short of the University’s expectations for a faculty member and a scholar.

In July, we reported that Whitaker was revising a book about modern African-American history after he admitted it contained “unattributed and poorly paraphrased material.”

The revised version of his book Peace Be Still: Modern Black America from World War II to Barack Obama will include “a statement of apology and admission of error;” he was also demoted one academic rank (from full to Associate Professor), and lost a contract with the Phoenix police department to provide “cultural consciousness training.”

Last month, the city asked for a refund of the money they’d paid him after discovering his materials were lifted from another city, according to the Arizona Republic:

The move comes after the city of Phoenix last month demanded a refund of $21,900 from Whitaker’s company, the Whitaker Group, after the revelation that many of the training slides the company prepared for a Phoenix Police Department training were from the Chicago Police Department.

Lonnie J. Williams Jr., a Phoenix attorney who represents Whitaker, said he can’t disclose what the university has communicated to his client. But he questioned why ASU would even look into the matter because it was a contract between Whitaker’s company and the city.

“It has nothing to do with ASU,” he said.

Furthermore, Whitaker was hired for his expertise, not the materials he provided, his attorney argued:

Williams, Whitaker’s attorney, said his client disclosed to Phoenix that the training modules would be based on material from the Chicago Police Department. Training is not just putting up slides, Williams said. The city was also hiring Whitaker for his expertise, knowledge and reputation, Williams said.

“It was more than just PowerPoint (slides),” Williams said in an interview with The Republic last month.

This isn’t Whitaker’s first bout with controversy — in 2012, a university committee cleared him of previous plagiarism charges, saying it found no “systemic or substantial plagiarism.”

We’ve reached out to ASU. We also emailed Whitaker at his ASU address and received this response:

I am on leave and out of the office.

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