Commencement Speech Wasn’t NCCU Student’s Own

Jane Stancill, News & Observer (Raleigh), May 17, 2011

A law student who graduated from N.C. Central University last week is in hot water after plagiarizing a speech in front of thousands of people at commencement.

Preston Mitchum, 25, of Youngstown, Ohio, apologized Monday for his conduct, which has triggered a review by NCCU officials.

In an interview, Mitchum said he was under pressure to come up with a speech and found a YouTube video of a speech made last year by Anthony Corvino, a student at Binghamton University in New York.

Mitchum copied the speech, delivering parts of it word for word at Friday’s ceremony for graduate and professional students at NCCU. In an interview Monday, he said he meant to credit Corvino in the speech, but didn’t.

{snip}

“Quite frankly, I’m disgusted,” Pierce said. “I spared no words in expressing to Mr. Mitchum how disgusted I am with this, and shocked. I mean, he is a student leader here at our law school. Plagiarism is a sad yet unfortunate reality in higher education, we all know that. That is not to make any excuse. . . . I would say, of all places, a school of law has no place for that.”

{snip}

Mitchum, who is set to take the bar exam this summer and pursue another graduate degree at American University, was emotional as he discussed the situation.

“I just don’t want this to have an effect on my career,” said Mitchum, who has published two law review articles and was head of the law school student body.

{snip}

ncuu-student

Preston Mitchum.

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  • Anonymous

    It’s OK. Plagarism is a “white man’s” crime. Surely, the rich African tradition of folk tales and borrowing to make the story better will be the excuse here.

  • Julia Strykker, der Dixie Gal!

    We know what happens next: he’ll fail upward.

    Blacks are never allowed to truly suffer when they break White laws against theft or plagiarism. He’ll say he’s sorry, then be assured of tenure and a high paid job in some White Money Funded liberal foundation.

  • Eric

    Amreners will remember NCCU as the school where Mike Nifong whipped the crowd into a frenzy during the Duke rapist hoax. Hundreds of students and admins from NCCU, many who were barely literate, screamed outlandish claims of cover-ups and conspiracy theories while threatening Duke students all while Nifong nodded approvingly. That tells you all you need to know about the quality of this institution.

  • Flaxen-headed Strumpet

    Need some inexpensive and light hearted entertainment over a few beers this evening with some friends? Tired of basketball?

    Do you have a computer to big screen TV screen connection in your den/rec room?

    Well have I got the program for you!! Go to the original News & Observer article and click on the “Gallery” tab for a stunning 173 shot photo journalism essay of Crystal Gayle Mangum’s alma mater NCCU graduation day hijinks. Of passing interest, the N&O in its recent Triangle area college graduation news coverage saw fit to shoot about 110 photos for the NC State graduation exercises (NCSU approx 5K graduates, NCCU less than 1K)

  • Flaxen-headed strumpet

    RE: Eric #3 Nifong (white boy) also got his law degree at NCCU.

  • Question Diversity

    4: I took a look at about half of that photo gallery on the Nuisance & Obstructor website. I noticed there were a few white graduates in there — I don’t know whether to feel sorry for them or not. I noticed the beach balls, (c’mon people, grow up), and that a lot of them were gabbing on their cell phones or texting someone — I mean, you don’t graduate from college every day — Can’t you stay off the phone for just a few hours? I also saw what looks to be flashing gang signs.

    Just think, in a few months, most of them will be starting in on good cushy government jobs.

    This could have been Crystal Mangum’s day to shine, had that ole racist North Carolina justice system not filed murder charges against her for alleged acts that read a whole lot like murder.

    And aren’t you glad they’re educated now? There was a part of me that wishes I could have gone there and asked all these newly minted graduates, one at a time, to integrate x^2, or to put the Thirty Years War in the right century, (asking them about its ramifications on Western Civilization would probably be asking for too much), or to explain to me the futility of the minimum wage in microeconomic terms, or to count from one to twenty in any foreign language (no, Ebonics doesn’t count).

  • Flaxen-headed Strumpet

    My favorite gallery shots are #s 83 and 84.

  • Anonymous

    Most of Michael King’s work, especially the thesis that allowed him to be called Dr. was plagiarized.

    King’s Brazen Cheating

    We read in Michael Hoffman’s “Holiday for a Cheater”:

    The first public sermon that King ever gave, in 1947 at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, was plagiarized from a homily by Protestant clergyman Harry Emerson Fosdick entitled “Life is What You Make It,” according to the testimony of King’s best friend of that time, Reverend Larry H. Williams.

    The first book that King wrote, “Stride Toward Freedom, – -was plagiarized from numerous sources, all unattributed, according to documentation recently assembled by sympathetic King scholars Keith D. Miller, Ira G. Zepp, Jr., and David J. Garrow.

    And no less an authoritative source than the four senior editors of “The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.- – (an official publication of the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Inc., whose staff includes King’s widow Coretta), stated of King’s writings at both Boston University and Crozer Theological Seminary: “Judged retroactively by the standards of academic scholarship, [his writings] are tragically flawed by numerous instances of plagiarism…. Appropriated passages are particularly evident in his writings in his major field of graduate study, systematic theology.”

    King’s essay, “The Place of Reason and Experience in Finding God,” written at Crozer, pirated passages from the work of theologian Edgar S. Brightman, author of “The Finding of God.”

    Another of King’s theses, “Contemporary Continental Theology,” written shortly after he entered Boston University, was largely stolen from a book by Walter Marshall Horton.

    King’s doctoral dissertation, “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Harry Nelson Wieman,” for which he was awarded a PhD in theology, contains more than fifty complete sentences plagiarized from the PhD dissertation of Dr. Jack Boozer, “The Place of Reason in Paul Tillich’s Concept of God.”

  • sbuffalonative

    He blew it off until the last second, he or one of his friends came up with the great idea of getting a speech off the internet, then he and his friends laughed and high-fived.

    “…he said he meant to credit Corvino in the speech, but didn’t.”

    He made the effort to copy a speech from youtube and it just slipped his mind to give credit where credit is due.

    “Quite frankly, I’m disgusted,” Pierce said. “I spared no words in expressing to Mr. Mitchum how disgusted I am with this, and shocked. I mean, he is a student leader here at our law school. Plagiarism is a sad yet unfortunate reality in higher education, we all know that. That is not to make any excuse. . . . I would say, of all places, a school of law has no place for that.”

    I’m glad someone said it so I don’t have to.

  • Dance

    The N&O regularly disables comments as they have done on this story. When they do this, the story always involves an abject moral failure of a very specific sort- or an unsavory violent crime. That being said NCCU hands out pieces of paper to any and all. A prospective employee with a roll of toilet paper in hand would be an infinitely more valued worker. NCCU provides those with the intellectual capabilities of twelve year olds to the work force. And these imbeciles are first in line for jobs in the governmental make-work scheme. Otherwise, they are the same sort who cannot get a fast-food order straight. Early retirement. Generous benefits. Could not sweep a floor to save their lives.

  • rjp

    N.C. Central University last week is in hot water …..

    Preston Mitchum, 25, of Youngstown, Ohio, …. NCCU officials…… he said he meant to credit …… he is a student leader here at our law school….. {snip}

    Mitchum, who is set to take the bar exam this summer and pursue another graduate degree at American University, was emotional as he discussed the situation.

    “I just don’t want this to have an effect on my career,” said Mitchum, who has published two law review articles and was head of the law school student body.

    This isn’t going to effect his career, he’s never going to pass the BAR.

  • Anonymous

    I worked with black students for five years. Believe me, copying is a way of life. Honestly, the truth and a lie is the same to many of them. All that matters is which one will get you what you want. It pains me to write that because I know a few very nice and honest church-going black folks, but the young people? Oh my are they ever ready to cheat!

  • Anonymous

    “Editor’s note: Reader comments have been disabled on this story because of numerous violations of our comment policy.”

    Interesting. I wonder what people were writing that had to be shut down by this bastion of our First Amendment, the News and Observer? Probably had something to do with the truth, I suspect.

  • Bernie

    When MLK was found to have plagiarized his doctoral thesis it was explained away by “voice merging.” Supposedly, voice merging is an ancient African tradition of merging (stealing) the words of others and making them your own.

    This chap was merely honoring the life of memory of the sainted MLK.

  • Anonymous

    So, the obvious question: Has anyone looked at his other papers?

    One way to stop this would be to adopt the West Point Approach:

    Thou shalt not lie. If you lie, you’re out.

    If you lie and your friends know it and don’t inform their mentors on you, THEY are out.

    A lie is anything which breaches the code of conduct that you don’t admit to, immediately, including plagiarism.

    It’s called _The Honor Code_. And it is strictly enforced. Which is why our Armed Forces are still, mostly, worth a damn.

    To which I would personally add: plagiarize and ALL your accumulated points/research towards degree are out on the pavement with you. Declare a new major because you’re not going to transfer anything you did in this institution to your new school.

    Enough of this assumptive social entitlement hiding utter personal incompetence _non sense_.

  • Anonymous

    Judging from the photo essay, that place looks like a diploma mill. They all look the next generation of AA hires and gov’mint workers.

  • Big Daddy from Cincinnati

    As a (white) graduate of NCCU, I will speak of it’s academic standards:

    You CAN get a good education. However, they certainly do not always MAKE you get a good education, particularly at the undergraduate level.

    The law school is relatively well thought of, as it has produced quite a few local attorneys, some of them pretty good, and at least one governor. (Of course, it was Mike Easley, NC’s former governor and attorney general who is now a felon. Hmmm… Maybe he didn’t pass that class about campaign finance laws….)

    The new chancellor is trying to raise standards, and it has upset quite a few applecarts:

    http://goo.gl/e6c85

    Of course, even these these GPA requirements are not exactly at the level of Harvard. He has also run off a bunch of the sorry folks who used to run the business office, etc. So it ain’t great, but it sure used to be worse!

    When I finished my master’s degree there, I did not find any of the academic work all that challenging, though many of my colored classmates certainly seemed to. But, hey, it’s accredited!

    And no, I did NOT go to that incredible display of loud obnoxiousness that passes for graduation. Though I did make some real good arrests in and around the campus when I worked in that city! The entire campus is surrounded by the ghetto.