updated 6/24/2008 6:32:01 PM ET 2008-06-24T22:32:01

A Columbia University professor who drew widespread attention when a noose was discovered hanging from her office door has been fired over allegations of plagiarism.

Administrators at Columbia's Teachers College said in a letter to faculty Monday that Madonna G. Constantine's appeal of the plagiarism charges has been rejected.

Bill Anderson, a spokesman for Teachers College, said Constantine had been terminated but that she could challenge the dismissal.

Her attorney, Paul Giacomo, said she has until July 15 to decide. He called the firing "purely retaliatory."

Written extensively about race
Constantine was a tenured professor of education and psychology and had written extensively about race.

She was sanctioned in February for plagiarism after the university determined she had used the work of others without attribution in papers published in academic journals over the past five years. She had remained on staff pending an appeal, with her lawyer saying at the time that she had been targeted because she is black.

The plagiarism investigation began in 2006, well before the noose — a symbol of lynchings in the Deep South — was discovered on her door Oct. 9.

Police have tested the 4-foot-long rope for DNA, conducted extensive interviews with possible witnesses and reviewed tens of hours of security-camera footage — but still have no suspects. A Manhattan grand jury is investigating the discovery, which sparked outrage last fall among students, faculty and administrators.

Police early on said they did not believe Constantine had hung the rope herself. A police spokesman declined to comment Tuesday on whether the timing of the hanging of the noose was related to the school's investigation.

A few weeks after the incident, a swastika was discovered on the door of a Jewish professor at Teachers College. Police are still investigating that incident as well.

Teachers College, founded in 1887, describes itself as the nation's oldest and largest graduate school of education.

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