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Suspicions Arise over Former University President’s Favors

Suspicions Arise over Former University President’s Favors

Posted August. 29, 2007 07:22,   


The former president of Dongguk University Hong Ki-sam ignored a request by his school’s personnel department. It was confirmed that he insisted on the appointment of former professor Shin Jeong-ah, who turned out to have fabricated her PhD at Yale University, even though the department took issue with her lack of required documents several times.

Hong gave her a leave of absence even after the 35-year old professor resigned due to the backlash from other professors, and unusually, he changed her post. There are now growing suspicions over his favors for her.

Ahn Hyeong-taek, an economics professor and then chief of the personnel department, said on Tuesday, “Ms. Shin did not turn in her transcripts and graduate certificates of her bachelor’s, master’s and doctor’s degree during the appointment process on August 6, 2005.”

Even with the absence of the required documents, Dongguk University named Shin as an assistant professor of art history department on September 1, 2005.

Professor Ahn said, “We reported several times to former President Hong and the chief of the planning department that Shin did not hand in her documents, but they kept on saying ‘wait.’ Her appointment process was totally different from the traditional way.”

Immediately after her appointment, other professors of the art history department took issue with her major, saying, “A western art major does not fit with our eastern art history department.” Then, she tendered her resignation to Hong.

However, the former president gave her a pass on the documents and reinstated her to a different department on March 1, 2006.

“Receiving her resignation and changing her position are subject to the university president’s absolute power. It is hard to understand why he gave her a leave of absence even after she tendered her resignation. What is harder to understand is why he changed her department,” said Professor Ahn.

Dongguk University explained, “Signing a leave of absence and changing a position were examples of a president not wanting to lose a competent professor.”

The Seoul Central District Attorneys’ Office, which is now investigating the fake academic documents of celebrities, said, “We confirmed that 10 PhDs who obtained their degrees from uncertified U.S. universities such as Pacific Western University are now local university professors. They are usually found in higher positions than part-time professors.”