William Gaudelli is the dean of the College of Education. Gaudelli apologized for the College of Education plagiarizing a course description at a different university when the college wrote recent communications about its commitment to anti-racism. (Shana Lichaw/B&W Staff)

College of Education plagiarized course description at different school in internal email affirming anti-racism

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A Dec. 7 email sent out by William Gaudelli, dean of the College of Education, made the college’s students and faculty aware that Lehigh’s College of Education plagiarized sections of a course description at another university in recent attempts to assert the college’s commitment to anti-racism.

The plagarized communication, which did not attribute to the course or university of which the language was taken, was sent out to the college’s students and faculty on Nov. 23 and was entitled, “Lehigh University College of Education Renews Commitment to Anti-racist Education.” 

Gaudelli said he is “saddened and concerned” by this error. He said the issue was first brought to his attention during the first week of December by an alumnus of the College of Education.

“I investigated the situation and confirmed that this non-attribution had indeed occurred in the development of the statement,” Gaudelli wrote on Dec. 7. “This error is unacceptable and inexcusable. That it occurred in a non-academic context makes it no less serious as it detracts from the important work of addressing systemic racism and oppression.”

Gaudelli is contacting the faculty members whose work they used to apologize and make them aware that this serious error occurred. He said with “guidance” from University Communications and the Dean’s Cabinet, Gaudelli is also “addressing internal process and staffing” that led to this event. 

“Rest assured,” Gaudelli wrote, the work of becoming “an anti-racist community of scholars continues to be an utmost priority” for the College of Education.

Gaudelli reminds College of Education students and faculty that this error is an important reminder that the college’s commitment to integrity must extend to every communication and action. 

“It is especially concerning since we are a community of scholars whose integrity rests upon the trust of stating what is true, fair and original,” Gaudelli said in the email.

Lehigh announced its commitment to anti-racism over the summer months in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder. The university came under heavy scrutiny in early June for allegedly not doing enough to oppose racism after the Floyd killing, and President John Simon and Board Chairman Kevin Clayton issued a response to an open letter that gained more than 1,500 signatures.

Around the same time, though, that Lehigh vowed to do more to oppose racism, the university twice removed pro-Black Lives Matter images that had appeared on rocks on its campus.

Since that time, Lehigh has vowed to review the policies of the Lehigh Police Department, hosted a series of Community Conversations About Race and sought out additional anti-racist initiatives on campus.

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