William Meehanâ€”president of the Jacksonville State Universityâ€”got his Ph.D. by copying largely word-for-word the dissertation of another student. He did not even copy an obscur thesis published in some remote country. In fact, he copied the thesis of a fellow University of Alabama graduate.Â And wait for it: they graduated nearly at the same time. And 3 professors were on both dissertation committees.
Call me naÃ¯ve, but I am surprised.Â Â We all know there are bad apples. Students will cheat. But cheating on a Ph.D. dissertation must be extremely difficult. It takes guts to copy a dissertation submitted recently, at the same school. It should not be possible. The University of Alabama seems like a respectable school, with actual professors and Ph.D. programs. What happened?
The thesis supervisor ought to know. A supervisor must provide feedback throughout the student’s work, from the proposal stage, to the final revision.Â Either he knew about the plagiarism (I doubt it) or else, he played no role in supervising the student. The student came to him with a complete thesis. He read it over, made some minor comments, and approved it. Rubber stamping a thesis should be as bad as plagiarism.
(It seems that professor Howard Jones was his supervisor though I am unsure.)
Further reading:Â Alabama college president accused of plagiarism (USA Today)