Extensive Plagiarism Alleged for UVA PhD Dissertation

by James A. Bacon

Natalie J. Perry, who now leads a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion program at UCLA, plagiarized long passages in her PhD dissertation at UVA, allege Luke Rosiak and Christopher F. Rufo in The Daily Wire.

In describing the plagiarism in Perry’s dissertation, “Faculty Perceptions of Diversity at a Highly Selective Research-Intensive University,” Rosiak and Rufo write:

An analysis of the paper found it ridden with the worst sort of plagiarism, reproducing large swaths of text directly from several other authors, without citations. The scale of the plagiarism suggests that Perry lacks both ethics and competence and raises questions about academic programs that push DEI.

Perry’s dissertation lifted passages from ten other papers. In key portions of her text, she copied almost every paragraph from other sources without attribution. She fails even to mention at least four of the ten plagiarized papers anywhere in her dissertation.

The article says Perry earned her PhD in 2014. Her official biography states that she holds a degree in “higher education” from UVA. The School of Education and Human Development website indicates that the school offers a PhD in Higher Education.

“A legitimate academic field never would have found this dissertation plausible,” Rosiak and Rufo write. Speaking of UVA, Harvard, and UCLA Medical School, they add, “These institutions have dramatically lowered expectations for favored groups and pushed a cohort of ‘scholars’ through the system without enforcing basic standards of academic integrity.”

Implications: How many other advanced dissertations offered by the Education School were marred by plagiarism of this sort? Is this case an outlier or a symptom of a larger corruption in which academic standards were suspended for demographically favored groups?

Perry was awarded her degree in 2014. Assuming the charges are verified, have standards continued to erode at UVA as political pressure has intensified to increase the number of degrees granted “under-represented ” minorities?

Does UVA have a process for revoking a degree if plagiarism can be proven? Many universities do. UVA’s research integrity page says the following:

Integrity in scholarship and teaching is a fundamental value upon which UVA is founded. The university’s Research Integrity Program provides the policy outlining the ethical expectations for, and responsibilities of, its research community, and the procedures for investigating research misconduct allegations.

A “research integrity officer,” Dave Hudson, manages “Allegations of Misconduct in Research within the UVA community.” The University uses “a plagiarism detection software application” to check for duplication and missing citations.

I have emailed Hudson and UVA spokesperson Brian Coy the following:

Mr. Hudson,

Perhaps you have been alerted to an article in The Daily Caller by Luke Rosiak and Christopher Rufo presenting detailed evidence that Natalie Perry, who earned a PhD in higher education from UVA in 2014, committed extensive plagiarism in her PhD dissertation. See: Research (virginia.edu)

My questions are these:

Will you (or someone else at UVA) investigate the veracity of these charges?

If plagiarism is proven, what are the potential consequences? Can UVA revoke the PhD?

What is the process by which that determination is made, and who makes it?

Best regards,

Jim Bacon

I will report back whatever I hear.

James A. Bacon is executive director of The Jefferson Council. This column has been republished with permission from the Jefferson Council blog.