Letter to the Editor
Issue   |   Tue, 09/25/2012 - 23:38

Carleen Basler writes to all members of the College community.

Dear students, staff, and faculty,

Resigning from my position at Amherst College was a very difficult decision but one that I believe is in the best interest of my family, my students, and the greater Amherst College community. My reason for resigning is simple. In certain sections of my scholarly work, I unintentionally failed to cite and improperly cited previously published materials. In the realm of academic scholarship, such mistakes are very serious in nature. I could have gone through the College’s adjudication process, but as the mistakes are mine, I believe resignation was the most honorable and ethical course of action. I sincerely regret these mistakes and apologize unreservedly to my colleagues and students for the distress this situation has caused.

I hope the College community will remember me for more than these mistakes, and will recall the passionate commitment I made to Amherst College in my teaching, mentoring, and developing a more diverse and inclusive learning community.
For my family’s sake I would be grateful if the community would grant us privacy.

Recent grad (not verified) says:
Wed, 09/26/2012 - 12:16

Why would we ever believe that this was unintentional? It was done repeatedly in the dissertation and the published article. I downloaded both while on campus and found page after page verbatim via Google. It is so widespread and systemic in the two major things you have written. Please explain how SO MUCH plagiarism could be unintentional. Please.

I am not berating you or invading your privacy. You have impacted this community and lying about your plagiarism is making it a lot harder to process your resignation. If you tell the truth, we can start discussing things as a community on real, honest grounds, rather than, as we are now, arguing about what the truth is in this or that document.

I plead with all Amherst students and alumni to get her dissertation and article, then search sentences via Google.

I plead with former Professor Basler to offer us a new and honest statement, instead of the plain lie that she did not do this intentionally. We can see that you did, Professor. We need honesty from you so that we can move on.

Senior (not verified) says:
Thu, 09/27/2012 - 17:53

Dear Recent grad,

Professor Basler offered her apology on the matter. You can accept it or not accept it. But you are not entitled to anything simply by having been a student at an institution at which Professor Basler taught. This is not to defend Professor Basler's actions but the idea that "the public" or "the community" is entitled to an in-depth examination of any individual's mistakes simply because you may have interacted with her is a truly horrifying one. Professor Basler has already paid severely for any mistakes made. She has no further obligations to indulge a public flogging.

@Professor Basler-- I never took one of your courses, but from the conversations that I have had with your former students, it seems you were a great educator whose impact was and will continue to be felt by your students. I am saddened that those experiences may be tainted, but I believe the lessons you have taught will endure.

Different recen... (not verified) says:
Thu, 09/27/2012 - 22:16

Really? Horrifying? I shudder to imagine the intensity of emotion you must feel when something *actually* outrageous happens.

I'd say that we-- Amherst students past and present-- are in fact entitled to something more than spin and damage control from ex-Prof. Basler. This isn't simply a case of one person making a mistake (or, more accurately, one person willfully committing academic fraud). It's a case of a person subverting the integrity of the entire project of cooperative learning at Amherst College. Academic honesty isn't just a personal obligation-- it's the bedrock of the academic endeavor. It's a collective responsibility that has collective consequences for the advancement of human learning. Basler willfully took credit for the ideas of another; represented their intellectual product as her own. She lied. And continues, by all appearances, to lie about the lying.

By so doing she is spitting in the face of every doctoral candidate who failed their dissertation defense, every junior professor who was denied tenure, and every student who got a lousy grade on a paper because they couldn't, for whatever reason, produce scholarship of the necessary quality by honest means and chose not to cheat. She chose to cheat. And she cheated us all.

Recent grad (not verified) says:
Fri, 09/28/2012 - 07:48

It's not that simple, Senior. For a few reasons.

This is a major case of fraud and it exposes a decade of lies and deception. I think we can ask her to tell the truth. She hasn't, so it's just another chapter of lies and deception. When will we have honesty? The community deserves that. After all, she received pay, sabbaticals, retirement (does the college get that back?), office space, research support, and so on and so on. Honesty in return isn't much to request.

Her deception taints, if not completely overturns her "lessons." What good are lessons if the teacher is a serial deceiver? Why should any of us who were in her courses value what she said, given what has been revealed as systemic fraud? An honest moment from her might restore some faith we want to have.

Last thing, she encouraged and received an outpouring of support for her tenure case. Letter writing, meetings with the president and Dean, a petition. All along, she knew that her doctoral degree and publication were fraudulent. Those are the FACTS, not judgment. And yet she asked all of us to support her. What sense can you or anyone make of that? It is a really crappy thing to do to your students. That is the least critical comment one can make. What else should we think?

She's not being "flogged." If the facts of the case (mass deception, verbatim plagiarism in every major writing project) are flogging, then she flogged herself. Don't blame us for what she did and what it says about her.

untenured faculty (not verified) says:
Sat, 09/29/2012 - 07:17

Please explain how you could encourage student support of your tenure case by petition, letter writing campaigns, and meetings with administrators, knowing that the bulk of your intellectual work was not your own. I think you owe your students, the ones for whom you claim to care so deeply, a better explanation and apology than this. I hope you've given them one in private, because that was shameless, using students' passion like that when you *knew* your tenure case was completely unsupportable. I'm a teacher too, and I can't imagine manipulating my students in such ways.

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