Lemoyne-Owen College president accused of plagiarizing pastor

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Allegations of plagiarism are swirling against the president of LeMoyne-Owen College.

Professor Michael Robinson, also president of the college's faculty organization, says he and other faculty members are upset about the President Dr. Andrea Miller's late October convocation address to incoming freshmen.

Robinson says shortly after faculty noted similarities between Miller's speech and that of world-famous Pastor Joel Osteen.

"The president is the highest academic and administrative officer at the college and she sets the standard for ethical and moral conduct at the college as well," Robinson said. "I think these are some serious allegations, because it impacts the credibility of the college going forward, and with the president being the face of the organization that's a serious allegation and a serious infraction."

The popular sermon in question is called "I'm Still Standing."

A video of Miller's speech has been removed from Youtube.

This is not the first time faculty and Miller have clashed. In 2017 faculty members took a vote of no confidence in Miller.

At the time some faculty said that Miller, the first female president of the college, had unfair hiring and firing practices.

Miller sent us a statement in response to the allegations, acknowledging some faculty members are calling for her resignation, but saying what she did was fair use of the speech she quoted from the "I'm Still Standing" chapter of Osteen's book "Blessed in Darkness."

"The fact is I did use material from Joel Osteen within the boundaries of fair use, which means I may not photocopy or print text for distribution," Robinson wrote.

"I wanted to offer a message of motivation and encouragement to our students, and offer reflection on what it means to endure the challenges that are a part of our transformational work at the college.

"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."

But Robinson believes portion of the sermon had other meanings.

"I don't think it was used in the spirit of a scholarly way, I think it was used more in a grudgeful way to send a message to the faculty."

Robinson says he and other faculty members want the College's Board of Trustees to take a stance on this issue. They say they're disappointed and have waited for weeks for the trustees to respond to the allegation.

Dr. Miller's full statement:
A few members of the LeMoyne-Owen College faculty are calling for my resignation because they feel I plagiarized a sermon by Joel Osteen. The fact is I did use material from Joel Osteen within the boundaries of fair use, which means I may not photocopy or print text for distribution. I quoted from the "I'm Still Standing" chapter of his book "Blessed in Darkness." I wanted to offer a message of motivation and encouragement to our students, and offer reflection on what it means to endure the challenges that are a part of our transformational work at the college. 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. It is no secret that organizational changes, the pace of change and our new direction at LeMoyne-Owen College has caused consternation among some faculty members. Still, I am committed to ensuring this 156-year-old institution achieves new heights in outcomes for the students and families we serve.
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