Arizona State honors Matthew Whitaker, accused of plagiarism

Historians in the News
tags: plagiarism, Matthew Whitaker



The Cabinet received quite a bit of mail today, most of it hot to the touch.  Hot with the indignation of ASU students and faculty reporting that the University has seen fit to bestow its 2015 "Pioneer Award" on Professor Matthew C. Whitaker.  The cheerful announcement that Professor Whitaker has been honored by the University for "long-term dedication to the quality of life of African Americans" did not, somehow, elicit cries of "Well done!" Instead, observers noted that since Professor Whitaker has publicly brought shame on the university three times within two years, and has repeatedly committed actions that would cause students to be penalized or even expelled, he should not be given an award.  

The Cabinet was in a mellow mood, and initially thought, well, it's an award for public service; Professor Whitaker is part of the public; giving him the award does him a service; what's not to like?  On second thought, yeah.  It's appalling. And the Cabinet is additionally unsettled by the fact that even had Professor Whitaker not been a plagiarist, his long-term dedication to the quality of life of African Americans appears to consist entirely of being an extremely well-paid professor of African-American history and the director of the Center for Race and Democracy at Arizona State University. Thus the University has given Matthew C. Whitaker an award for occupying the lucrative position the University has given him.  And when those disgusted by serial plagiarizing suggest the professor should be gently encouraged to put his talents to different use, the University can respond, "But he wins awards!  We ought to know, because we give them to him!"  Why, yes.

Perhaps next year, ASU will give Matthew Whitaker a special award for having won a lot of awards from ASU.  Or perhaps Arizona State, which prides itself on its commitment to sustainability, will give Professor Matthew C. Whitaker an award for having steadfastly declined to expand the footprint of human knowledge. APS, the power company who is the Center's corporate sponsor -- and on whose behalf Professor Whitaker continues to write articles deploring net metering, all without disclosing his financial relationship to the power company -- would surely approve: Arizona State University Reuse, Recycle, and Repurpose Award for Scholars.  That, Professor Whitaker does indeed deserve.




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