Thursday, February 7, 2013

She Had High Hopes

but oops there goes another doctor's degree referring to our Minister of Science and Education and giving once more tribute to Ol' Blue Eyes*.

Thirty-two years ago Annette Schavan submitted a thesis titled: Person und Gewissen (Personality and Conscience) to the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. On February 5, the University revoked her degree because as a doctoral candidate, she systematically and deliberately presented intellectual efforts throughout her entire dissertation that were not her own. As such, she is guilty of intentional deception through plagiarism. The faculty board voting 12 to 2 arrived at the decision to declare German Science and Education Minister Annette Schavan's Ph.D. thesis invalid and to revoke her doctor title.
*I still remember that at one time Sinatra had changed the lyrics of High Hopes singing: Vote for Kennedy ...

Cartoon found in Badische Zeitung of February 6, 2013: In Goethe's play Faust the titular character sitting in his study deliberates about the recent plagiarism revealed:
Now here I sit, a fool for sure!
No wiser than I was before:
Master, Doctor’s what they call me,
Holding the titles already many years through
Still have to tremble all the time
That they will pin a plagiarism onto mine.

Why "oops" another doctor's degree? Remember Defense Minister Karl-Theodor von und zu Guttenberg stepping down from his position in the spring of 2011 after it was proven that he had plagiarized large sections of his Ph.D.? He somehow fled Germany and is now hiding somewhere in the US booed by students and professors alike whenever he tries to spread his wisdom on the relation between the US and Europe at one of the universities in the States. Nevertheless Theodor kept his title of nobility whereas Annette lost her academic status completely for without passing a bachelor or master degree she directly wrote her thesis - an unusual practice at a German university. Schavan is now without any academic qualification. Although even the political parties in opposition to the Merkel government acknowledge her good work, is this sufficient for a Minister of Science and Education supposed to talk to her peers?

What makes me angry is that at the time when von Guttenberg's thesis was under attack Schavan had declared openly: Pirating material is no trivial offence; for the protection of intellectual property is a great good. She had added with respect to her colleague that she was ashamed, not just secretly. What a pharisaical attitude compared to the title of her was a thesis!
While on an official trip to South Africa Schavan told some waiting journalists: I am not going to accept the decision and shall file a suit against the University of Düsseldorf.
Back from here business trip to South Africa where she was attributed a doctor honoris causa Annette Schavan resigned as minister on Febrary 9, 2013.

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