When Is Plagiarism Not Plagiarism?

UT engineering dean says no discipline for professor who published public relations articles under his own name

The Daily Texan reported Tuesday that the College of Engineering plans no disciplinary action against mechanical engineering professor Sheldon Landsberger, despite Landsberger's admission last week that he had published a March 4 Statesman op-ed under his own name that was in fact written by the Potomac Communications Group, a public relations firm for the nuclear energy industry. Engineering Dean Ben Streetman said no discipline is planned, although he told the Texan, "We believe that when faculty write articles, that it should be original." For students, UT defines plagiarism as "any use of the content or style of another's intellectual product without proper attribution."

Anticipating an article in the Chronicle that would expose his misrepresentation ("Will Shill for Nukes," by William M. Adler, April 16), Landsberger wrote a letter to the daily a few days earlier apologizing that in his "exuberance" to promote the use of Yucca Mountain in Nevada for storing nuclear waste he somehow failed to mention he hadn't written his signed essay. Landsberger did not mention that he had also told the Chronicle he had been exuberantly submitting such ghost written essays "two or three times a year" for "four or five years." Landsberger declined reporters' questions, but Potomac Senior Vice-President Mimi Limbach cheerfully declared in his stead, "I'm not sure I'd call that plagiarism. That's something that happens all the time in the United States."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

higher education; public relations, Sheldon Lansberger, Ben Streetman, Mimi Limbach

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