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Brookings: plagiarism dispute with Nevada agency ‘behind us’

Brookings Mountain West issued a statement late Tuesday expressing its desire to move past a plagiarism dispute with the Nevada System of Higher Education and Chancellor Dan Klaich.

“The chancellor has apologized, and we at Brookings Mountain West and the Brookings Institution consider the matter behind us,” the statement said. “We regard NSHE as a key stakeholder in the work of improving Nevada and look forward to constructive future engagement with its leadership.”

The dispute concerns a report the think tank provided to NSHE officials for background that wound up quoted verbatim and without attribution by a system official in a presentation to an interim legislative committee in June as part of an effort to create a multimillion-dollar grant program designed to improve the state’s workforce in “STEM” industries of science, technology, engineering and math.

In its statement, Brookings said its work “was not loosely referred to as requested” but “replicated almost word-for-word from the original” by NSHE. Brookings was also led to believe by Klaich that the report would be used by NSHE during a “panel discussion,” but instead it was “entered into the public record as a supporting document for an NSHE STEM Challenge Grant.”

After being alerted about how the report was being used, its lead author, Brookings Washington director Mark Muro, requested NSHE provide “proper attribution to Brookings,” which the agency did, the statement said.

Klaich has denied that what happened rose to the level of plagiarism.

Brookings made it clear Tuesday that it considers the matter settled.

“We are pleased the debate is moving forward on STEM education in Nevada. Hopefully the relevant stakeholders can return now to the work of developing a stronger system for delivering top-flight industry-led regional skills initiatives,” the statement said.

While some regents have expressed concern over the way the Brookings’ work was used, others have disparaged the think tank.

Outgoing regent and incoming state controller Ron Knecht said he felt in the end Brookings would look bad and demanded an investigation to exonerate those “falsely accused.”

Regent Michael Wixom also questioned Brookings in an article published the day before Brookings’ statement was released.

“I think it’s been made a much bigger issue than it needs to be. I’m not sure why Brookings has approached this the way it has,” Wixom said. “I don’t view it as plagiarism.”

Incoming Regent Trevor Hayes said he disapproved of Knecht’s slam of Brookings, expressed a desire to get to the bottom of the controversy and worried that not doing so could harm UNLV’s partnership with Brookings.

“I like Brookings here,” Hayes said. “I like smart people working on solutions in Nevada even if I sometimes disagree with them.”

Contact Bethany Barnes at bbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @betsbarnes on Twitter.

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