Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tolzmann plagiarism case: Has it died?

Every so often, I check SiteMeter to see how folks get to this obscure corner of the blogosphere. Most people seem to be regular readers, but a certain number come from google searches (and, yes, other search engines). "Good verbs" is a big one for some reason, and "etymology of hoser" was up there for a while. But one steady item has been "Tolzmann plagiarism" and related variants. Back in the spring, our contributor Joe posted a long piece on the bizarre tale of how Don Heinrich Tolzmann, librarian at the University of Cincinnati and the president of the Society for German-American Studies, was accused of plagiarism. Long after the initial allegation in a book review, a couple of folks raised questions about what had happened and that triggered some attention to the case finally; the charges turned out to have merit. Tolzmann was tossed from his position as president of SGAS and lost his position in the German Department at Cincy.

A new comment appeared on that old post this morning and it prompted me to have a look and see where things stood. The comment consisted only of the URL for Tolzmann's personal page (here), where of course nothing is said of the matter. Looking around, there's nothing recent on the topic in fact on the web that I see, and only one older piece that seemed to add anything new, a post by the Annoyed Librarian (nice blog, by the way), here. Note especially the comments, where it gets pretty personal. (But a caveat: This was not about a paragraph taken without a footnote; it was a ton of material, basically verbatim, unless I've really misunderstood the whole case.)

What's alarming is that he's still listed as library staff. What does it take to get fired? The plagiarism originally came to light in 2003, so the wheels are moving very slowly, it seems. If anybody gets word on what's happening here, leave a comment or drop me a line.


Mr. Verb said...

See the earlier post on this (linked above) for some followup.

Anonymous said...

To clarify: from what I have been able to gather, late in 2006 Don Tolzmann and the University of Cincinnati reached a settlement in which he agreed to take early retirement, effective 8/31/07. He was then placed on a special assignment leave during which he would not be physically working at the university. Presumably, Tolzmann's library duties were assumed by other university librarians. His courses were cancelled. As of last December, he was no longer curator of the German-Americana Collection nor director of the German-American Studies Program.

Mr. Verb said...

Thank you. This suggests then the kind of resolution one might have expected under the circumstances.

After seeing the uproar, and hearing the background, I was very curious about what had become of this matter, as was one of our contributors (for somewhat different reasons).

In this case, assuming the basic information in the key posts is on target, the blogosphere seems to have provided information that was not otherwise widely available.

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