‘Unheard Of’: Plagiarism Victims Sound Off As UCLA Remains Silent On Academic Scandal

Academic whose work was stolen by DEI official asks: 'Who would copy that many things, does this person have any original thoughts?'
UCLA diversity official Natalie J. Perry (Credit: UCLA). At right, a UCLA flag (Credit: Icon Sportswire / Contributor via Getty Images)
UCLA diversity official Natalie J. Perry (Credit: UCLA). At right, a UCLA flag (Credit: Icon Sportswire / Contributor via Getty Images)

Academics whose work was stolen by a top diversity, equity, and inclusion official at the UCLA School of Medicine say the scale of plagiarism is both “unheard of” and “unbelievable,” raising questions about how the California university’s failure to take action. 

An investigation by The Daily Wire and City Journal found that Natalie J. Perry, who leads a DEI program at the medical school and is tasked with shaping the school’s “culture,” had stolen thousands of words without attribution for a doctoral thesis on the benefits of DEI. 

On April 12, The Daily Wire and City Journal provided the UCLA School of Medicine with a 14-page document containing overwhelming evidence of academic malfeasance. The school has not responded and there is no indication that it has taken any action, with Perry still listed on its website.

Perry stole extensively from at least 10 different papers, at least four of whose authors she never even mentioned. The Daily Wire and City Journal shared passages she stole from each author with those victims, and asked what should be done.

Angelo Kinicki, an Arizona State University business school professor from whom Perry stole 1,000 continuous words, said that the findings, and the subsequent reaction, raise concerns about the institutions.

“That’s unheard of. It’s unbelievable,” he said after viewing evidence that pages 32 to 35 of Perry’s dissertation are virtually identical to a paper by Kinicki and two other authors, Chad Hartnell and Amy Ou. “Who would copy that many things, does this person have any original thoughts?”

“If she’s supposed to be the carrier of the culture and she steals people’s work, what does that tell you? What kind of culture are we creating here? And then for the institution to not want to respond? That’s the wrong kind of culture,” Kinicki said, adding that universities lose all value if their degrees and hiring processes do not amount to an assurance that the person is qualified.

The University of Virginia, which granted Perry a doctorate in education based on the plagiarized dissertation and famously has a strict “honor code” shaped by the ideas of founder Thomas Jefferson, said it would investigate the claims after it was sent the same information shared with UCLA.

“We are initiating an investigation according to our process,” said university spokesman Brian Coy, who added that “the University does have the ability to revoke degrees in cases where plagiarism or other qualifying forms of misconduct are identified and proven.”

Though the university’s Honor Committee said it is only able to accept reports on alleged violations within two years of when they occurred — Perry’s paper was published in 2014 — Research Integrity Officer David J. Hudson said he would examine the claims.

“When they hire this person, they’re trusting the pedigree of UVA. UVA cheated them by not enforcing standards. And then students trust that the person is qualified because they’re at UCLA, but they’re cheating the students,” Kinicki said. 

“If I was sitting on a tribunal I’d say revoke her PhD,” he said. “It degrades other degrees. If UCLA doesn’t, that’s an abdication of their responsibility.”

Perry also stole from Neal Schmitt, a professor of organizational psychology at Michigan State University who is an expert on “personnel and selection and academic admissions.”

“It appears to be plagiarism to me,” he told The Daily Wire after reviewing a side-by-side of his paper and hers, though not the other examples. “If it is plagiarism, I do not believe the person should continue to hold an administrative role at UCLA.”

Many of the academics she stole from were left-wing ideologues writing about race, and have declined to publicly call out Perry, raising questions about whether it is acceptable in their field. Kinicki, the organizational culture expert, said that speaks volumes. 

“If those people who are victims won’t speak up or say something, they’re contributing to it, they’re condoning it,” Kinicki said. 

Perry stole four paragraphs from racial scholar Rubén Martinez, for example, but Martinez declined to comment on the findings. 

“Best approach is to bring it to the attention of her supervisor (is it a Dean?), and that person can then contact us,” Martinez said.

His co-author on the paper, Adalberto Aguirre Jr., is the editor of the journal Radical Pedagogy and a professor at the University of California Riverside. Aguirre Jr. said he would respond in the next few days, but failed to follow through. 

Among the other victims who have stayed silent is Sylvia Hurtado, a professor at Perry’s own institution of UCLA. Just like Perry, her credentials are nominally in the field of education, but in reality, she writes about race.

Barron Sawyer, who manages an unofficial Bruin Alumni Group, said he wrote to Perry asking for an explanation, but received no response. He told The Daily Wire that the failure of other academics to speak up is “disheartening.”

“As the founder of a UCLA alumni network and a proud alumnus, I find the lack of action disheartening, especially as it involves a faculty member, Professor Sylvia Hurtado, who is herself a victim,” Sawyer said. “I urge the university to take immediate, transparent steps to investigate and address these claims to restore and uphold the high ethical standards expected at UCLA.” 

Aside from Perry’s plagiarism, high-profile academics have raised concerns about the competence of the people behind UCLA’s DEI programs, which have dangerously veered the school away from scientific rigor.

After the school required all first-year medical students to read an essay that stated concern about obesity is “violence on… Black, disabled, trans, poor fat people,” Jeffrey Flier, the former dean of Harvard Medical School, said that the course was promoting “dangerous misinformation” and that the medical school had substituted “Marxist ideology” for medicine.

Flier said that anyone involved in approving the course was unqualified for medicine, and that the school’s dean, Steven Dubinett, should “change its leadership” to remove anyone who supported it.

Sawyer, the alum, added that the administration should remember its commitment to the principles espoused by legendary basketball coach John Wooden: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  ‘Unheard Of’: Plagiarism Victims Sound Off As UCLA Remains Silent On Academic Scandal