Leadership & Governance

Malone U. President Steps Down Amid Plagiarism Accusations

Malone U.

Gary W. Streit announced his retirement as president, effective immediately.
February 22, 2010

The president of Malone University, a small liberal-arts institution in Canton, Ohio, announced his resignation on Monday after concerns surfaced that he had used unattributed materials in some of his speeches.

The president, Gary W. Streit, is retiring immediately. Wilbert J. Friesen, the university's provost and vice president for academic affairs, has been appointed to serve as interim president.

Mr. Streit, who is 64, took office as president in July 2007. He could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Before coming to Malone, Mr. Streit was provost, chief academic officer, and vice president for academic affairs at Olivet Nazarene University. He holds a Ph.D. in English education from the University of Illinois.

Because Mr. Streit has retired, there would "really be no point" to an investigation of the plagiarism accusations, said Suzanne Thomas, a spokeswoman for Malone, which is affiliated with the Evangelical Friends Church.

Ms. Thomas said Malone's Board of Trustees had created a plan for how the college would proceed after it accepted Mr. Streit's offer to retire over the weekend.

In a university news release, the board's chairman, Donald M. Harper, praised Mr. Streit's "energy and vitality" and the "outstanding leadership team he forged at Malone."

Mr. Harper declined to comment further on Monday.

Ms. Thomas said concerns about plagiarism became public after students noticed similarities between a chapel address given by Mr. Streit on January 13 and online work written by others.

For example, Mr. Streit began the speech with a description of the Roman figure Janus: "In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of gates, of doors, of beginnings and of endings. His most prominent remnant in modern culture is his namesake, the month of January, which begins each new year. He is most often depicted as having two faces or heads, facing in opposite directions."

The Wikipedia entry for Janus reads: "In Roman mythology, Janus (or Ianus; "archway") was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings. His most prominent remnant in modern culture is his namesake, the month of January, which begins the new year. He is most often depicted as having two faces or heads, facing in opposite directions."

Later in that speech, Mr. Streit used material that is nearly identical to portions of two Associated Press articles and a mythology-influenced Web site called Penumbra.

In a speech Mr. Streit gave while provost at Olivet Nazarene, he described the history of the word “provost” in language that strongly resembles a definition on the University of Iowa’s Web page. Mr. Streit said: “Unfortunately, the original definition of the word ‘provost’ was 'the keeper of the keys of the prison.' The Provost Marshal of the Norman invaders who plundered England in 1066 was infamous for torture and merciless cruelty, and suspected deserters and drunks during the American Revolution were very poorly treated in their respective ‘provost prisons.’”

The University of Iowa page states: “Unfortunately, the original definition of the word ‘provost’ was ‘keeper of a prison.’ The Provost Marshal of the Norman invaders in 1066 was infamous for torture and merciless cruelty.  And suspected deserters and drunks during the American Revolution were very poorly treated in their respective ‘provost prisons.’"

The speech also included lines closely resembling other parts of the University of Iowa’s Web page, as well as a portion of Enotes.com’s summary of the Robert Frost poem “Birches.”