Alberta medical dean accused of plagiarism resigns

Dr. Philip Baker, dean of the medicine and dentistry at the University of Alberta, stepped down Friday amid allegations of plagiarism.
University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera announces Friday the resignation of Dr. Philip Baker, dean of medicine. (CBC)

Dr. Philip Baker, dean of medicine and dentistry at the University of Alberta, stepped down Friday amid allegations of plagiarism.

"On the request of the provost, and recognizing that it was in the best interests of all parties involved, Dr. Philip Baker is resigning as dean, and I have accepted his resignation," said university president Indira Samarasekera.

Philip Baker, the dean of medicine at the University of Alberta, has resigned after admitting he did not properly attribute portions of his convocation speech. (The Gateway)

"A resignation from a senior position as dean is a very serious step," she told reporters at news conference Friday. "It's the loss of a position of high academic stature."

Samarasekera said that the allegations made it difficult for the dean to "maintain his moral authority."

Students say a speech given by Baker during a graduation banquet last week, which told personal stories about how medical science has helped his wife and children, was lifted from a talk given by surgeon and professor Atul Gawande at Stanford University's 2010 medical school convocation.

Baker later apologized to Gawande, medical students and his colleagues.

Baker will remain as a professor, but will take an immediate four-month leave of absence, said Samarasekera.

"I want you to know we have been thoughtful, careful, deliberate in following our policies and procedures in reaching this conclusion," she said.

The incident has been difficult for the dean — both professionally and personally — his family and faculty staff and students, said provost Carl Amrhein who cut short a business trip to Germany to deal with the matter.

The investigation into the plagiarism complaint continues, Samarasekera said.

Dr. Verna Yiu, the vice-dean of faculty affairs within the faculty of medicine and dentistry, was named interim dean.

The university held a meeting Friday afternoon for faculty of medicine and dentistry staff and students that was attended by about 400 people.