Bowdoin College: Professor Investigated Because Article Embarrasses the College

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Bowdoin College

Economics professor Jonathan Goldstein was investigated after he distributed copies of a research paper that embarrassed the college in front of prospective students. Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd instigated an investigation “in the realm of harassment and hostile work environment, as well as for possible violation of other College policies.” Judd also suggested that “issues” with Goldstein’s “research methods … may need to be considered by the appropriate faculty committee and my office.” Judd also added further charges questioning whether Goldstein failed to follow “the protocols outlined by the Research Oversight Committee” and whether he had revealed confidential information. Two weeks after that, Judd formally referred the research misconduct aspect of the investigation to an inquiry committee. Judd’s allegations for the inquiry committee were described as “[f]ailure to cite sources” and “[p]lagiarism.” Almost all of these allegations were found to be meritless. After employing an attorney and with the help of FIRE’s publicity, all charges were dropped with the exception of a single failure to cite sources charge which was acknowledged as unintentional. University president Barry Mills denied Goldstein’s appeal and stated that Goldstein had erred as he looked for outside assistance and publicity in his case.

  • Bowdoin punishes professor who provoked

    April 24, 2009

    The president of Bowdoin College has endorsed a faculty committee’s finding that an economist engaged in misconduct in research — research that he continues to maintain the college examined only because it made Bowdoin look bad.The complicated and contested history of Jonathan P. Goldstein’s dispute with Bowdoin was examined in an article on Inside Higher Ed two weeks ago. The gist of it is that Goldstein wrote a scholarly article that, he said, showed that Bowdoin overemphasized athletics; ran afoul of the college’s dean and other administrators when he sought to distribute it to parents and prospective students (interrupting college […]

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  • Bowdoin Censures Professor Who Dared to Report Negatively on College

    April 23, 2009

    Earlier this month I reported on FIRE’s case at Bowdoin College, whose dean threw the book at an economics professor who dared to distribute a research paper that had conclusions that embarrassed the college. Had he not done so, his paper would not have been investigated at all, and the dean wouldn’t have gone through every footnote looking for possible academic misconduct. All of the original charges, which included harassment and hostile work environment, failed to stick except for one “failure to cite” finding. This charge—that he failed to fully cite in one instance (in a document he self-published online […]

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  • Bowdoin College Throws the Book at Professor over Embarrassing Research Results

    April 10, 2009

    Doug Lederman at Inside Higher Ed reports today on FIRE’s case at Bowdoin College, where a professor and his research have been investigated after he distributed copies of a research paper that embarrassed the college in front of prospective students. Economics professor Jonathan Goldstein, who has been at Bowdoin for 29 years, was interested in the amount that a college’s academics appear to suffer as a result of emphasis on athletics. His research showed that among 36 colleges, Bowdoin came in last, with the greatest amount of lost academic potential. Goldstein was interested in what prospective students and their families […]

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