Columbia prof. accused of plagiarism

February 21, 2008 12:20:55 PM PST
A Columbia University professor whose colleagues found a noose hanging from her office doorway will remain on staff despite being sanctioned for plagiarism, school officials said Thursday.The university's Teachers College announced Wednesday it had imposed "serious sanctions" against Madonna G. Constantine. The college said a lengthy investigation uncovered numerous instances in which she used others' work without attribution in papers she published in academic journals over the past five years.

The inquiry into Constantine was launched in 2006, well before the noose - a symbol of lynchings in the Deep South - was discovered this past October, the school said.

Details of the sanctions were not released, but Teachers College spokeswoman Marcia Horowitz said Constantine was not suspended and will remain a tenured professor.

Horowitz said the case was reviewed by an outside law firm as well as a panel of current and former professors at Teachers College.

Constantine, an education and psychology professor who has written extensively about race, said Wednesday that the accusations and the noose incident are part of efforts to intimidate her because she is black.

Her lawyer, Paul J. Giacomo Jr., said his client can prove her innocence and called the school's investigation "extremely underhanded from the beginning." He said he will appeal the sanctions.

In a written statement, Constantine said she had been subjected to "a conspiracy and witch hunt by certain current and former members of the Teachers College community."

Her lawyer said she had been targeted because of her race and hinted the sanctions and noose incident were linked, claims that Horowitz denied.

Constantine's colleagues discovered the noose hanging from her office door. The incident roiled the Ivy League campus and gained national attention.

Police at the time ruled out any possibility that Constantine had hung the rope herself. A few weeks later, a swastika was discovered on the door of a Jewish professor at Teachers College. As of Thursday, the investigation was ongoing and there had been no arrests made in either incident, police said.