?Pattern Of Plagiarism? Costs University Of Utah Scholar His Job

Friday, August 19, 2011
A faculty panel has substantiated a "pattern of plagiarism" on the part of a tenured University of Utah political scientist, but in a split decision declined to recommend firing him or revoking his tenure.

That lifeline was severed, however, by a senior administrator who overruled the panel, known as the Consolidated Hearing Committee (CHC), and fired Bahman Bakhtiari, whom the U. hired in 2009 to head its troubled Middle East Center (MEC), according to documents the U. provided to The Salt Lake Tribune.

"Plagiarism — holding out the work of another as one’s own — strikes at the very core of academic integrity. In my view, the sanctions proposed by the CHC do not recognize the seriousness of this offense," interim president Lorris Betz wrote in a June 30 decision. "The only appropriate sanction in this case is dismissal, which is necessary to preserve the academic integrity of the institution and to restore public confidence in the university."

Bakhtiari, whose name also appears in print as "Baktiari," maintains the overlap between his work and that of others was not intentional. He says his firing represents an unwarranted intrusion by administration into faculty governance. The Iranian-born scholar also alleges he is the victim of discrimination perpetrated by a "pro-Arabist faction" within the MEC.

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