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Washington Adventist President in Plagiarism Probe

April 10, 2019
 
 

Washington Adventist University’s Board of Trustees is investigating allegations that its president, Weymouth Spence, plagiarized parts of a 2017 performance review, as well as two papers he wrote during doctoral work in the early 1990s.

The university had no comment on the allegations, which were brought to the board’s attention in February by an anonymous whistle-blower.

In an email sent to the board, the whistle-blower, who goes by the name Bethany Buckingham, said Spence copied key passages from existing publications for the 2017 review. Buckingham, who describes herself in the email as a freelance writer from Takoma Park, Md., where the university is located, wrote that Spence also copied passages from several books and articles for papers he submitted in 1990 and 1991, while studying for a doctoral degree in education at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

In a statement responding to the allegations, Weymouth last week said his degree “was confirmed by Nova Southeastern University” in 1994 “in accordance with the rigor of its integrity standards as essential for conferral of their terminal degrees.”

Weymouth also said documents for the 2017 review he submitted were “nonscholarly submissions and are evidence of our university’s resilient performance over the previous five years. These formal evaluations are personal, private reviews which are not meant for scholarly analysis.”

He apologized to the university for “the distraction this allegation has created.”

Nova Southeastern did not respond to a request for comment on the plagiarism charge.

Washington Adventist spokesman Richard Castillo said the board would report on the investigation during its scheduled May 8 meeting. He said Spence remains on the job in the meantime and is "fully empowered."

The plagiarism allegations were first reported in Spectrum, a magazine published by Adventist Forum, an independent nonprofit that is “committed to promoting community through conversation” in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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