Topic 7: [Goodwin] will speak amidst a controversy over plagiarism

Debate Question: Some have argued that it would be appropriate to deny people like Goodwin this forum at the University of Pennsylvania because of the plagiarism incident. Are their views ethical?

Source: Daily Pennsylvanian

Goodwin to lecture at Irvine tonight - The author will speak amidst a controversy over plagiarism
by Christina Yang
February 20, 2002

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin will be speaking in Irvine Auditorium tonight as one of the speakers scheduled for Penn's Fox Leadership Program. The event will begin at 7 p.m. with an introduction by University President Judith Rodin, who helped bring Goodwin to Penn.

Goodwin began her career working as an assistant to Lyndon Johnson during his presidency. She turned her knowledge and experience into a book, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, that gained her national attention.

In 1995, Goodwin was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her book No Ordinary Time, which details the life of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

However, Goodwin has been accused recently of plagiarizing portions of her 1987 work The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys.

Goodwin has acknowledged similarities between her book and Lynne McTaggart's Kathleen Kennedy: Her Life and Times. However, Goodwin claims that the similarities exist because she neglected to carefully look at the longhand notes she took from McTaggart's book and thought the notes contained her own writing.

Penn is more than familiar with the issue of plagiarism lately, given the recent revelation that noted historian Stephen Ambrose borrowed phrases and ideas from Penn Professor Thomas Childers' 1995 work Wings of Morning.

But those affiliated with the Fox Leadership Program say they do not see anything wrong with inviting Goodwin.

Chuck Brutsche, associate director of the Fox Leadership Program, admitted that he thinks having Goodwin speak is "controversial, given the whole plagiarism issue."

Nevertheless, Brutsche said he believes Goodwin is still an excellent speaker with valuable insights to offer Penn students.

"She's not coming to talk about herself as a leader -- she's coming to talk about her experience in meeting other leaders in the various fields she's been in," he said.

"Given that, I don't see why we wouldn't invite her," Brutsche added. "I would rather welcome her to campus than shun her away."

Student Director of the Fox Leadership Program Marc Siegel agreed with Brutsche.

"She made a mistake, but she still has a point to make," the College senior said. "She has amazing credentials, and that shouldn't deter us from learning what she has to say."

Both Brutsche and Siegel said that even though Goodwin has been accused of plagiarism, the Fox Leadership Program did not ever consider that a problem, even in light of the topic of her lecture, "The Essence of Leadership."

"She's presenting views on what makes up a good leader, and what made Franklin Roosevelt, [Lyndon] Johnson and the Kennedys great leaders," Siegel said. "It's not a talk about, 'How I became a great historian.'"

"She's discussing what it took for those presidents and those political figures to become great, not what it took for her to become great," he added.

Brutsche went on to say that there will be a question and answer session after Goodwin's speech, and that students can inquire about the reported plagiarism if they so choose.

"Anyone who is curious about the plagiarism issue is welcome to ask her about it," he said.

Brutsche added that he hopes Goodwin's talk stimulates some lively debate on campus.

"We're working and living in a university, and that's what we're here for -- to debate and exchange ideas," he said.

Last modified: Wed Sep 13 14:57:24 EDT 2000