Harvard President Claudine Gay plagiarized her PhD dissertation: report

The report reveals that Gay’s 1997 dissertation contains three examples of clear-cut plagiarism defined by Harvard’s own policy.

Harvard University President Claudine Gay’s PhD dissertation contains multiple instances of plagiarism, according to a new report from journalists Christopher Rufo and Christopher Brunet. 

This information comes to light days after Gay made national headlines for testifying before Congress that the acceptability of “calling for the genocide of Jews” at Harvard “depends on context.”

The report reveals that Gay’s 1997 dissertation, “Taking Charge: Black Electoral Success and the Redefinition of American Policies,” contains three examples of clear-cut plagiarism defined by Harvard’s own policy.

The first example that Rufo and Brunet report is a paragraph that is lifted “nearly verbatim” from a paper titled “Race, Sociopolitical Participation, and Black Empowerment” by Lawrence Bobo and Franklin Gilliam.

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“Though Gay does provide a reference to the original authors, she uses their verbatim language, with a few trivial synonym substitutions, without providing quotation marks,” Rufo and Brunet explain, pointing out that this is a “clear violation” of Harvard’s policy, which reads as follows:

Rufo and Brunet note that “Gay repeats this violation throughout the document, again using work from Bobo and Gilliam, as well as passages from Richard Shingles, Susan Howell, and Deborah Fagan, which she reproduces nearly verbatim, without quotation marks.”

The report also demonstrates that “Gay appears to lift material from scholar Carol Swain in at least two instances,” and that she “composes an entire appendix in the dissertation directly taken from Gary King’s book, A Solution to the Ecological Inference Problem.”

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King was Gay’s dissertation advisor, and she does cite his book. However, “Gay does not explicitly acknowledge that Appendix B is entirely grounded in King’s concepts, instead passing it off as her own original work.”

Rufo and Brunet demonstrate that throughout Gay’s appendix, she “borrows material from King in at least half a dozen paragraphs.” Again– a violation of Harvard policy and academic integrity standards.

The report concludes with a call for a full investigation by Harvard’s Board of Overseers into Gay’s academic integrity.

Gay was asked in a congressional hearing Tuesday whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” violates Harvard policy. Her multiple answers were as follows:

  • “It can be, depending on the context.”

  • When asked what context would be necessary for a rule violation, Gay answered that the call for genocide must be “targeted at an individual.”

  • “Anti-Semitic rhetoric, when it crosses into conduct, it amounts to bullying, harassment, intimidation. That is actionable conduct, and we do take action.”

  • “Again, it depends on the context.”

In the days since Gay’s testimony, scholars have pointed out that she lacks the intellectual credentials normally expected of a university president.

New Mexico Associate Psychology Professor Geoffrey Miller noted on X that Gay has only written 11 peer-reviewed journal papers.

“Well, that’s about the number you’d normally need to get hired as a first-year tenure-track assistant professor at a decent state university,” wrote Miller.