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The Columbia noose professor is terminated, story still not over

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By Michelle Malkin  •  June 24, 2008 09:15 AM

The latest twist in the still-unresolved Columbia noose case finds the university dealing with a litigious headache. Live by grievance politics, die by grievance politics.

Professor Madonna Constantine, whom administrators initially rallied behind after she claimed she had been racially targeted, has now belatedly been fired after the school found her guilty of plagiarism. You’ll recall that the sanctions against her had been kept secret in February. Someone spilled the beans to the NYTimes yesterday:

The Columbia University professor who gained widespread attention last fall after a noose was found hanging on her office door was fired on Monday after months of wrangling over charges that she plagiarized the work of two former students and a former colleague.

Madonna G. Constantine, a professor of psychology and education with a focus on racial issues at Columbia’s Teachers College, was sanctioned in February, after an 18-month investigation into the plagiarism charge, but allowed to stay in her job and to appeal the ruling that she had violated the university’s academic standards. But over the last five months, tensions between Dr. Constantine and the administration grew more strained as she vigorously defended herself, filing not just the appeal but also a grievance against Susan Fuhrman, the college president.

Paul Giacomo, Dr. Constantine’s lawyer, said that the college’s move to dismiss his client was “purely retaliatory.”

Dr. Constantine has until July 15 to decide whether to challenge her ouster before one of two faculty committees, Mr. Giacomo said, adding that she also might sue the college for wrongful termination in either state or federal court.

A Teachers College spokesman confirmed that Dr. Constantine had been dismissed pending a hearing by a faculty committee, but otherwise refused to comment on what led to the action.

A letter announcing the decision, sent Monday to the faculty of the college, indicated why the punishment had escalated. “During the months since the college levied sanctions against her, Professor Constantine continued to make accusations of plagiarism, including in at least one instance to the press, against those whose works she had plagiarized,” the letter stated.

Indeed, Dr. Constantine’s lawyer continued to point out during an interview on Monday that the three people who accused her of plagiarism were themselves promised indemnity.

The original sanction against Dr. Constantine was never made public, but the letter was clear that the college now wanted her gone.

“We are terminating Madonna Constantine’s employment with Teachers College for cause, subject to a hearing before a faculty committee,” it said. “In the interim Professor Constantine is suspended, effective immediately.”

But what about the noose incident that just happened to take place in the midst of the plagiarism probe? When will the campus cough up the truth about that? In March, I noted that Constantine’s files were being subpoenaed
by the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force and prosecutors.

No word on what they found. Yet.

This story’s far from over.

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