CARBONDALE — In academic circles, the 2007 allegation that SIU President Glenn Poshard plagiarized the very paper that got him credentialed to run a university was very serious.
“It was the lowest point of my career,” the 66-year-old Poshard said in a recent interview with The Southern Illinoisan.
“I’ve been in government services since I was in my early 20s, and no one had ever accused me, ever in my whole life … of stealing one thing from anybody, ever. And I didn’t in that case either.”
At its basic level, the question over Poshard’s 1984 doctoral dissertation that netted him a Ph.D. in administration of higher education from SIU was a matter of improper citation.
Investigators determined it was a mistake but not intentionally dishonest.
Back then, talk of plagiarism was the rage at SIU, and accusations of the intellectual misdeed were propagated by a largely faceless group within the system upset that an SIU Edwardsville faculty member, Christopher Dussold, was fired after allegations of plagiarism.
Poshard had already defended both SIUE Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift and SIUC Chancellor Walter Wendler against plagiarism charges by the group by the time it turned its attention to his work.
The group targeted his dissertation because Poshard refused to give Dussold back his job, Poshard said, adding there were other reasons the man was let go, but ones he could not discuss.
Dussold, contacted late last week by The Southern, offered no comment. “I guess, officially, I can’t say anything,” he said.
Dussold, an instructor of finance and economics, now teaches part-time at McKendree University in Lebanon.
Poshard’s name was cleared of intentional plagiarism after weeks of investigation by a university-appointed committee. He was allowed to correct citation errors in the document, which was amended and re-filed.
During the controversy, the SIUE Faculty Senate took the equivalent of a no-confidence vote in Poshard and asked him to step down as president. Calls The Southern placed with leadership of that senate for comment on this article were not returned.
The faculty senate at Carbondale never called for Poshard’s ouster. Despite that and several other controversies that have embarrassed SIU, immediate past Faculty Senate President William Recktenwald of the journalism school said members have never pushed for Poshard’s or any other university leaders’ removal.
“I’ve not heard rumblings of let’s get torches and pitchforks and march on anything,” Recktenwald said.
Poshard said he’s never been confronted with any further talk of the plagiarism charge directly, although he knows there are people who were upset by the outcome of the investigation. Poshard simply maintains his innocence.
“If I had committed intentional plagiarism, I wouldn’t be the president here today or anyplace else,” he said.