A local college president is under fire, accused of plagiarizing a speech to incoming freshman.
Some faculty at Lemoyne-Owen College are furious over the address given in October. They say the words are not an original message by Dr. Andrea Miller at all, but rather a sermon given by popular mega church pastor Joel Osteen last year.
The college president is defending her actions for the first time.
Last year, Miller got a no confidence vote from 85% of faculty on the South Memphis campus. At the same time, Joel Osteen was giving a sermon that the professors say would end up in the college president’s speech, and widen the divide between them and Miller.
Michael Robinson is a professor at Lemoyne-Owen College and president of the faculty organization.
“Shortly after the convocation ended there were text messages going around the campus saying, ‘hey, have you heard this before’,” said Robinson. “In reading the text messages, it was discovered that it was an identical message that was delivered by Joel Osteen.”
Here’s a sample passage of what Robinson and other faculty are incensed about:
“What’s interesting is the same storm came to both people, the just and the unjust,” said Osteen in his sermon from 2017. “If the story ended right there, you would think, doesn’t make a difference to honor God.”
“What’s interesting is that the same storm came to both people: the just and the unjust,” said Miller in her speech in October. “If the story stopped there, you’d think that it doesn’t make a difference whether we honor God.”
Looking at transcripts of the sermon and speech, Miller did seem to omit parts of Osteen’s original sermon, leaving out three anecdotes as told by the mega church pastor.
To Robinson, plagiarism is unacceptable coming from the chief academic officer of the college.
“She sets the standard for institutional and academic integrity at the college for faculty, staff and students to follow,” said Robinson.
Students are frequently dismissed from academic programs for plagiarism.
“For them, we should be setting a high moral and academic standard when they come into the institution to follow,” said Robinson.
In a statement President Miller says:
“I used material from Joel Osteen within the boundaries of fair use, which means I may not photocopy or print text for distribution. In my notes, I have a statement giving credit to Pastor Osteen that I may have overlooked while delivering the speech. In that instance, it would be an oversight and does not constitute a serious breach of academic standards that would rise to level of review for faculty or students. The faculty as a body did not call for my resignation.”