A preliminary review has cleared Annette Parker, the president of South Central College, of allegations that she plagiarized parts of her dissertation, officials announced Wednesday.
The review by Western Kentucky University, which awarded Parker's doctoral degree, concluded "that Dr. Parker did not intentionally commit plagiarism, and that a full investigation is not warranted."
Parker was one of three Minnesota college presidents whose doctoral dissertations have been publicly questioned on a blog site run by critics of her administration. She has been president of South Central, which has campuses in Faribault and North Mankato, since 2013.
Steven Rosenstone, chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), issued a statement Wednesday saying he considers the case closed.
"We take charges of plagiarism seriously," he said. "That said, it has become clear that these reckless charges are one tactic in a coordinated campaign of personal attacks intended to tarnish the reputations of MnSCU presidents."
Parker had asked Western Kentucky to conduct the review after the allegations first surfaced in February on a website called SaveSouthCentralCollege.blogspot.com.
The blog posted excerpts of Parker's dissertation alongside the wording from her original sources and argued that some parts had been lifted without proper attribution.
In a letter to MnSCU dated April 1, Western Kentucky's provost, A. Gordon Emslie, said that a committee had conducted a "preliminary inquiry" based on the university's definition of research misconduct, which it calls "an intentional act of deception" or "representation of another's work as one's own."
It found no such misconduct.
Parker issued a brief statement thanking students, faculty and staff at her college for their support. "We will continue to take care of each other and move the college forward together," she said.
Ryan Magnus, a Mankato lawyer who co-authored the original blog post, said he was disappointed with Western Kentucky's response. "What [it] did not say was that no plagiarism occurred," Magnus said. "It stated, very carefully, that Dr. Parker did not intentionally commit plagiarism. Intentional or not, plagiarism occurred."
A MnSCU spokesman would not comment on whether it is investigating the plagiarism allegations against the two other college presidents.