It seems Columbia valedictorian Brian Corman missed out on at least one lesson during his undergraduate career: cite your sources.
Columbia University’s School of General Studies has been enmeshed in a plagiarism scandal after Corman appropriated a joke by comedian Patton Oswalt in his address at the school’s graduation ceremonies on Sunday, according to the Columbia Spectator.
In his speech to the Columbia General Studies class of 2010, Corman repeated a joke from Oswalt’s “Physics for Poets” routine. The comedian — best known for his roles in sitcom “King of Queens” and Pixar animated film “Ratatouille” — raised the alarm on his Twitter account.
“In people’s heads they think that comedians can’t possibly make up their own material,” Oswalt said in an interview with The New York Times on Tuesday. He said he thinks Corman’s actions reflect a general disrespect for the work of comedians.
(Compare Corman’s and Oswalt’s versions of the speech below.)
Columbia University’s School of General Studies has since issued a public statement, saying that the university was “deeply distressed” by the incident. Peter J. Awn, dean of the School of General Studies, wrote in a separate statement that his school “places a core value on respect for the works of others” and does not “condone or permit the use of someone else’s work without proper citation.” Corman has issued an apology to Oswalt and to his classmates, Awn said.