Who Is Sherri Ann Charleston? Harvard's Chief Diversity Officer Faces 40 Plagiarism Accusations Weeks after Claudine Gay Was Forced to Quit

Charleston previously served as the chief affirmative action officer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before joining Harvard in August 2020.

Harvard University's chief diversity and inclusion officer is facing scores of plagiarism accusations in connection to her academic work, including one instance where she allegedly neglected to appropriately attribute her husband's study. Ivy School received a letter from an anonymous source detailing 40 alleged instances of plagiarism by Sherri Ann Charleston.

The accusations against Charleston, the chief diversity and inclusion officer, include a range of issues, from minor instances of missing quotations to the more serious allegation of claiming credit for her husband's research, the Washington Free Beacon, which independently conducted an analysis, reported. This comes just weeks after Harvard president Claudine Gay was forced to resign following similar allegations.

Another Instance of Plagiarism

Sherri Ann Charleston
Sherri Ann Charleston X

According to the Beacon, which conducted an independent analysis of the complaint, Charleston is accused of insufficiently attributing quotes or paraphrased content from around twelve scholars in her 2009 dissertation at the University of Michigan.

The complaint also alleges that Charleston later claimed authorship of a study conducted by her husband, LaVar Charleston, who presently serves as the University of Wisconsin-Madison's deputy vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, and had authored the study in 2012.

LaVar Charleston
LaVar Charleston X

The alleged plagiarism occurred when Charleston reportedly reused substantial sections of her husband's paper in a peer-reviewed article they jointly authored in 2014, according to the complaint.

The article, published in the Journal of Negro Education, is claimed to have replicated the same findings, methodology, and survey subject descriptions as those found in Charleston's husband's original paper.

"You cannot just republish an old paper as if it is a new paper," Lee Jussim, a social psychologist at Rutgers University, told the outlet. "If you do, that is not exactly plagiarism; it's more like fraud."

Sherri Ann Charleston
Sherri Ann Charleston X

"The 2014 paper appears to be entirely counterfeit," said the head of the National Association of Scholars Peter Wood.

The complaint was also filed with the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Fresh Allegations Tarnish Harvard Image

Charleston previously served as the chief affirmative action officer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before joining Harvard in August 2020.

Claudine Gay
Claudine Gay X

These accusations add to recent controversies at the school, including issues related to the handling of anti-Semitism on campus during the Israel-Hamas conflict and allegations of plagiarism against former president Claudine Gay.

Harvard recently said that an independent body recommended a broader review into the plagiarism accusations against Gay, following substantiation of some complaints.

The school launched the investigation after learning about the allegations on October 24, prompted by a New York Post reporter.

Harvard said that it contacted several authors cited in the allegations, and none objected to Gay's language.

Harvard responded to the plagiarism allegations against Gay by appointing an independent body to investigate two of her articles from 2012 and 2017. The panel concluded that these articles were "sophisticated and original," with virtually no evidence of intentional claiming of findings not her own.

However, it acknowledged that nine out of 25 allegations made by the New York Post were of principal concern, involving paraphrased or reproduced language without proper quotation marks and insufficient crediting of sources.

Claudine Gay
Claudine Gay X

The investigation also found that a third paper, written during Gay's first year in graduate school, contained identical language to that previously published by others.

Gay's academic career faced scrutiny after her congressional testimony on antisemitism on campus.

Alongside Liz Magill of the University of Pennsylvania and MIT's president, Sally Kornbluth, Gay faced criticism for their responses to New York Representative Elise Stefanik's inquiry about whether "calling for the genocide of Jews" would violate the colleges' codes of conduct.