UNC Vice Chancellor for Science resigns amid plagiarism

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Terry Magnusson, vice chancellor for research at UNC-Chapel Hill, oversees the university’s $ 1 billion research venture.

UNC Chapel Hill

UNC-Chapel Hill professor Terry Magnuson resigns as Vice Chancellor for Research after he plagiarism in a federal grant application for cancer research.

As Vice Chancellor, Magnusson held the position of UNC official responsible for “ensuring the integrity of research and compliance with the federal regulatory framework governing research.”

In an email to the director of campus research centers and institutes received by The News & Observer, Magnuson explained that while heading a university bureau that investigates illicit research, his “duty was to ensure that others could trust that the system treats everyone equally, regardless from position or status, and that no one is above the law ”.

He said he takes responsibility for what happened and considers the discipline of the Office of Research Integrity of the National Institutes of Health reasonable and appropriate.

Magnusson said that together with Chancellor Kevin Guskevich, a decision was made to resign from the leadership position.

Magnusson has served as vice chancellor since 2016 and was recently reappointed head of the university’s $ 1 billion research operation.

He is also Honored Professor of Genetics Kay M. and Van L. Weatherspun at the UNC School of Medicine and was the founder of the Department of Genetics. Magnusson is also an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“Error” in the application

Magnusson explained his “mistake” that led to research violations.

Clarifying some of the technical details of the proposed methodology in the grant proposal, Magnusson used snippets of text from two equipment vendors ’websites and a publicly available article online, he said.

He inserted them into his paper as placeholders and intended to return to them and revise the sections where conventional methods were discussed, he said.

But he said he lost track of the editing and did not rework the text or cite sources.

“I must emphasize that none of this concerned the scientific investigation proposed for funding, the data behind it, or the objectives of the work,” Magnusson said in an email.

Concerns from the faculty

Chancellor Guskevich and Vice-Chancellor Chris Clemens sent an email newsletter about Magnuson to the campus community on Thursday night, shortly after faculty chair Mimi Chapman expressed teachers’ concern that Magnusson remained in office.

Chapman said she also called emails saying that Magnusson had resigned from his administrative post because the “symbolism of it is just what seems impossible” to some teachers.

“As teachers, we believe that this situation could ruin our learning and give the impression that some members of our community are ‘inviolable’, while for others this situation would be the end of their careers,” Chapman said in an e-mail on behalf of teachers.

She said it was not a demand for him to resign, but asked Guskevich and Clemens to resolve the situation.

The announcement of the campus appeared about an hour later.

“Terry has left an indelible mark on Carolina, and we thank him for his service,” Guskevich and Clemens wrote.

They appreciated Magnusson’s significant contribution and “long-term impact” on the university’s research venture. They noted his work in creating creative centers, which is a “primary funding initiative that creates evolving virtual research networks by concentrating interdisciplinary talents and resources on bold ideas”. They also noted his efforts in developing the concept of the Institute of Convergent Science.

Magnusson’s last day as vice chancellor will be Friday.

Penny Gordon-Larsen, vice dean for research at the UNC’s Gillingsa School of Global Public Health, and Honored Professor of Global Nutrition Carl Smith Chambley, will serve as interim vice chancellor for research.

This story was originally published March 10, 2022 6:02 p.m.

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Kate Murphy talks about higher education for The News & Observer. She previously covered higher education for the Cincinnati Inquirer in the Investigation and Entrepreneurship Group and the USA Today Network. Her work has received state awards in Ohio and Kentucky, and she was recently named a 2019 Finalist of Education Writers Association finalist for digital storytelling.
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UNC Vice Chancellor for Science resigns amid plagiarism

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