Plagiarism accusations latest sign of unrest with MnSCU's leaders

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Two Minnesota State College and University presidents are being accused of plagiarism by a group that is critical of the way the state college system is being run.

MnSCU calls the allegations "reckless," while experts told the Star Tribune they shouldn't be ignored.

The claims

A post on the "Save South Central College" blog last month accuses an unidentified MnSCU president of plagiarizing parts of her dissertation for her doctoral degree.

(To read the post, titled "Academic Dishonesty," scroll down towards the bottom of the page.)

While the post doesn't name her, the Pioneer Press identified her as Annette Parker, president of South Central College in Faribault and North Mankato. She has held the position since July 2013.

Last week, the group called out another MnSCU president for plagiarism in a post titled "Academic Dishonesty: Part II" (at the top of the page), questioning the leader who chose these presidents and the leadership that "refuses to act to correct the situation."

Dorothy Duran, who was named president of Southeast Technical in Winona in March 2014, confirmed to the Star Tribune that the post was referencing her dissertation.

Why the blog?

Minnesotans United for Higher Ed – a group made up of community members, faculty and staff at the college – launched the blog earlier this year, the Mankato Free Press reported.

The group is critical of the direction MnSCU is headed under Chancellor Steven Rosenstone's "Charting the Future" project, and works to publicize the leader's alleged wrongdoings with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Red Lake Nation News reports.

Rosenstone was at the helm when both Parker and Duran were hired, Red Lake Nation News notes.

In a statement to the Star Tribune, MnSCU said it fully supports its presidents, adding it's disappointing people can "level baseless and reckless accusations" at people they're unhappy with.

Nicole Helget, a former adjunct teacher at South Central College and outspoken member of the Minnesotans United group, told the Mankato Free Press many contributors to the blog wish to remain anonymous out of fear of losing their jobs.

An expert who reviewed the blog's allegations at the request of the Star Tribune said there were some "examples of plagiarism" and "citation errors," noting there's little doubt it "wasn't properly referenced."

While the presidents are calling the allegations false, Parker told the newspaper she would be more than willing to add missing attributions; Duran said the blog didn't include some of her citations, which gave credit to the original authors.

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