THE CANADIAN PRESS -- The University of Alberta medical school dean who admitted he plagiarized parts of a speech to graduates has resigned.
University president Indira Samarasekera says Dr. Philip Baker is no longer in his position as dean, but will stay on as a professor after a “brief” administrative leave.
“On the request of the provost, and recognizing that it was in the best interests of all parties involved, Dr. Philip Baker is resigning as dean, and I have accepted his resignation,” Samarasekera said in a statement.
Baker said he hopes his stepping down will let the school move on.
“It was never my intention to detract from the accomplishments of the graduating class of 2011,” Baker said in the same statement.
“My hope is that the university and the faculty will be able to put this unfortunate incident behind them, and that this will bring closure for the university, the faculty and my family.”
Baker admitted that he stole parts of an inspirational speech to future doctors that he gave at a convocation banquet last Friday.
He said that when he was researching his own speech, he was inspired by the text of a convocation address given by Atul Gawande, a doctor in the United States.
Students listening to Baker's address quickly found the speech online and some said they were able to follow along with what Baker was saying.
Baker wrote a letter on Sunday to the graduating class in which he apologized for his speech. He said he deeply regretted what he did and added there was no excuse for his “lapse in judgment.”
The address he cribbed from was called “The Velluvial Matrix.” It was given last year by Gawande to graduates at Stanford University in California and published on The New Yorker website. It touched on personal family stories about overcoming adversity. Baker admitted that the theme and much of the content for his address came from what Gawande said.
“The talk was intended for a private audience, nevertheless, my failure to attribute the source of my inspiration is a matter of the utmost regret,” Baker wrote to students.
Gawande's original speech dealt with the radical transitions modern medicine is undergoing and the need for a doctor to be both a scientist and an artist while maintaining humility.
Gawande is a surgeon and an associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School. He is also a staff member of The New Yorker magazine and has written several books and articles for many journals.
Baker said he contacted Gawande and apologized.
The University of Alberta medical school is among the best in the country, ranking fourth in the most recent annual Maclean's rankings behind McGill, Toronto, and UBC.
It's not the first time someone has landed in hot water for cribbing a graduation speech.
Just this May, a law graduate at North Carolina Central University had to apologize after lifting his graduation speech from a speech made a year earlier by a student in New York.
It's not the first time plagiarism at an Alberta university has made headlines. In 2004, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein faced allegations that he didn't properly source material he took from the Internet to write the essay for the Athabasca University communications course he was taking by correspondence.
The essay was on Chilean history. The school eventually cleared Klein saying the improper citation was “a relatively minor error.”