Reprinted here in its entirety.
By Dr. William A. Meehan
President, Jacksonville State University
Weekly Column - Town and Gown
As many of you are aware, recent Town & Gown articles published in this
newspaper under my byline contained plagiarized material. These articles were
ghostwritten by the recently retired director of JSU’s News Bureau. As President
of Jacksonville State University, I acknowledge and accept full responsibility
for this breach of professionalism and ethics. Plagiarism is unethical conduct.
It is abhorred within a university and should never be tolerated. It is
diametrically opposed to the standards of our academic community.
When first informed of this issue, I immediately asked the University’s vice
president for institutional advancement to investigate the article’s
authenticity. When it was revealed that a staff member had in fact plagiarized,
I requested an Integrity in Communications Committee be formed, comprised of
members of diverse backgrounds from within and from outside the University, to
investigate the charges of plagiarism and to present its findings and make
recommendations as to the integrity of University communications.
I want to assure you that this committee acted in absolute autonomy and
transparency. Their meetings were conducted in open session with members of the
This past Friday, the committee presented their findings and recommendations
to me. A copy of the report was also provided to members of the University Board
Additionally, a copy of the report was made available to the media. The full
report is also posted on the University’s web site. I want to express my sincere
gratitude to each member of the committee for their professionalism and insight.
I will take steps to ensure that the committee’s recommendations are
implemented. We will be hiring a new director of public relations soon. The
individual hired for this position must be a person of the highest professional
and ethical standards who is unconditionally committed to journalistic and
Additionally, the office of public relations will develop, through a
committee process representing a variety of disciplines, a mission statement and
“code of ethics” that will reflect its function as a news bureau, public
information office, a public relations office and training site for students. I
will also create a broad-based University Committee from a variety of
disciplines to review academic integrity. The purpose would be to ensure that
the definition of academic honesty and integrity is consistent in policy and
practice across campus and reflects the highest ethical standards.
This has been a very difficult and embarrassing process for the University
and to me personally. We will use these experiences to improve the integrity of
the University’s communications and the experience we offer our students. I
invite you now to read the Integrity in Communications Committee’s Final Report
About William A. Meehan
Dr. William A. Meehan is president of Jacksonville
State University. His column, "Town & Gown," appears in The Jacksonville News.
See story at The Jacksonville News's website: www.jaxnews.com