A President Accused of Plagiarism

Andrea Lewis Miller defends her use of material from Joel Osteen's sermon "I'm Still Standing."

December 3, 2018
 
Andrea Lewis Miller

The president of LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tenn., has been accused of plagiarizing a famous pastor during her convocation speech to new freshmen in October.

WREG Memphis, a news station that first reported the story, spoke to Michael Robinson, a professor at LeMoyne-Owen and the president of the college’s faculty organization. Robinson said that he and other members of the faculty were disappointed in President Andrea Lewis Miller for setting a poor example by using parts of a sermon by Joel Osteen without attribution.

“The president is the highest academic and administrative officer at the college and she sets the standard for ethical and moral conduct at the college as well,” Robinson told WREG. “I think these are some serious allegations, because it impacts the credibility of the college going forward, and with the president being the face of the organization, that's a serious allegation and a serious infraction.”

Miller and the university's communication representatives did not respond to Inside Higher Ed's request for comment. But Miller sent the following statement to WREG defending her decision to use material from Osteen’s sermon "I’m Still Standing," saying that she was within the bounds of fair use.

“A few members of the LeMoyne-Owen College faculty are calling for my resignation because they feel I plagiarized a sermon by Joel Osteen. The fact is I did use material from Joel Osteen within the boundaries of fair use, which means I may not photocopy or print text for distribution,” her statement read in part. “In my notes, I have a statement giving credit to Pastor Osteen that I may have overlooked while delivering the speech. In that instance, it would be an oversight and does not constitute a serious breach of academic standards that would rise to level of review for faculty or students. The faculty as a body did not call for my resignation. It is no secret that organizational changes, the pace of change and our new direction at LeMoyne-Owen College has caused consternation among some faculty members. Still, I am committed to ensuring this 156-year-old institution achieves new heights in outcomes for the students and families we serve.”

In 2017, faculty took a vote of no confidence in Miller, who has served as president since September 2015.

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