From: The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 23, 2004.  Available online at:

U. of New Hampshire Disciplines Professor Accused of Plagiarism in Newspaper Column


The University of New Hampshire has disciplined a professor for "scholarly misconduct" after he plagiarized Delaware's governor in a column published last year in a local newspaper.

The opinion column, written by Marc D. Hiller, an associate professor of health management at the Durham campus and fervent antismoking advocate, argued in favor of smoking bans in public places. It was published in The Union Leader, a newspaper in Manchester, N.H., on June 1.

Several weeks later, a reader alerted the paper's editors to similarities between Mr. Hiller's column and a letter written by Ruth Ann Minner, the Democratic governor of Delaware, during a legislative debate on smoke-free restaurants.

The university investigated the allegations and released a statement about the case on Saturday. The document offered little detail about the investigation, saying simply that a committee had concluded its work and that its results had been given to Mr. Hiller and the Leader.

When the charge surfaced, in June 2003, Mr. Hiller said he was not certain how the excerpts from Ms. Minner's letter had ended up in his column, but he told the newspaper that such advocacy essays should not be held to the same standards as research papers.

"Letters, editorials, opinion pieces are not claimed to be original works," he told the Leader. "I'm sure that probably a vast majority of letters advocating on issues A, B, or C come from a variety of sources and are not something claimed to be original work."

Mr. Hiller is now much more contrite. In a statement released on Saturday by the university, he said he had prepared the column hastily and had "failed to subject it to my normal standard of scrutiny." He acknowledged that he had used "substantial portions" of a statement written by Ms. Minner.

"The failure to cite Governor Minner's authorship resulted from my lack of care in the preparation of this piece," he wrote. "I am very sorry for my failure and extend my sincerest apology to Governor Minner."

The university, according to its statement, is taking "further action with Hiller as it deems appropriate." But university administrators declined to release any additional information about the case or the nature of the "further action."

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