By Latricia C Wilson – Contributor
Angela Henderson, interim provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs at Chicago State University, is in the hot seat over alleged plagiarism.
University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate College Dean Karen Colley is expected to make a decision on whether Henderson will be permitted to have her doctoral degree.
Henderson received her PhD in nursing from UIC in August, and now her dissertation has been removed from UIC database amid the allegations that sections of her dissertation are plagiarized, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Henderson’s 129-page dissertation has been intensely criticized by experts on academic integrity so much so that the Tribune even reviewed the dissertation.
While the UIC doctoral program faculty are not facing any repercussions, Henderson’s academic and ethical integrity has come under attack by Robert Bionaz, history professor at CSU.
Bionaz operates the Crony State University Faculty Voice blog in which he has used as a platform to repeatedly attack Henderson and other top officials at CSU while, for some odd reason, he still receives a paycheck there.
According to the Tribune, the plagiarism charge was first brought by Bionaz, after he ran Henderson’s thesis through plagiarism detection software. Bionaz may have been successful at publicly humiliating Henderson and challenging her intellectual competence.
However, Bionaz, the Tribune’s academic integrity experts and Colley may have forgotten to cross examine and review the intellectual competence of UIC faculty members who determined Henderson’s thesis met the doctoral program standards.
The Preliminary Examination Committee — which determines UIC doctoral candidates’ readiness to undertake dissertation research — is not in the same trouble Henderson is in. Neither is Henderson’s PhD advisor, who was the primary reader of her dissertation and UIC graduate faculty.
No media coverage on Henderson’s plagiarism allegations include statements about the five-member dissertation committee appointed by the dean of UIC’s Graduate College who ultimately determines whether or not Henderson met the requirements for her dissertation research.
In Bionaz’s Jan.18 blog entry on Crony State University titled, “‘At long last, have you left no sense of decency?’ Angela Henderson is No Victim,” he stated: “In truth, this wretched scenario has produced victims. The students, current and past, of [CSU] are victims; the school’s staff, faculty and administrators are victims; the citizens and taxpayers of the state of Illinois are victims and persons who respect the standards and values of higher education are victims. Angela Henderson is not a victim. She brought this disgrace upon herself.”
Bionaz is absolutely correct in implying that Henderson has been disgraced. On the other hand, it is absolutely absurd for him to assume that Henderson single-handedly disgraced herself.
The doctoral committee staff who was responsible for reading her 129-page dissertation and critically evaluating her literary work, played the biggest role in disgracing a woman with 19 years of experience in higher education.
Colley fails to “take seriously” the competence of UIC faculty members who are responsible for ensuring that doctoral candidates’ coursework, and especially their dissertations, have been thoroughly reviewed before a ceremony takes place and a degree is awarded.
This “wretched scenario” has indeed produced victims. The victims it has produced are future doctoral graduates of UIC who could potentially have to defend their entire educational background every time they pursue a professional position anywhere. Problems could also arise when these students go on to discuss their educational accomplishments with potential employers.
We must not forget about the number one victim — Henderson. She has been publicly disgraced due to the actions of a CSU professor who allowed a personal grudge against the CSU administration to dictate the tasteless and indiscreet manner in which he chose to oust a fellow co-worker.
While Colley is taking the plagiarism allegation against Henderson seriously, the CSU dean should take the actions of a professor who has publicly embarrassed their provost and made their college the laughing stock of the entire higher educational community seriously, as well.