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DGU sues YaleYou Sun-hee, Kwak Gyu-ryeong
  • You Sun-hee, Kwak Gyu-ryeong
  • 승인 2008.04.18 18:08
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July 12 2007, Shin Jeong-ah's fake doctoral degree was revealed to the world and the famous Shin Scandal diminished the reputation of Dongguk University (DGU).  This monstrous event has not only influenced DGU but the whole Korea.  Bulletin boards and DGU's internet web-site were all about the Shin Jeong-ah's scandal.  One of the students during a job interview was asked about the Shin Scandal even though the job interview had nothing to do with Shin Jeong-ah.  This was just an example where DGU students had to feel humiliated because of the Shin's Scandal.
Due to this scandal, DGU has lost its more than 100-years-fame, and was seriously attacked to its name value in Korea.  Also Yale made two serious mistakes.  The first mistake is that Yale sent wrong document stating that Shin Jeong-ah graduated from Yale.  Yale mistakenly announced to media that the fax it sent on September 22nd was a fake made by DGU.  These are the reasons why DGU eventually decided to sue  Yale.

<What has happened so far?>
On September 1st 2005, Shin Jeong-ah was appointed as an assistant professor in DGU on the understanding that she had successfully completed her doctoral degree from Yale.  At that time, School Authority had heard that the degree might be a fake and Ahn Hyung-taik from DGU contacted Yale requesting to confirm Shin's doctorate degree.  On September 22nd, Schirmeister who is the vice dean of Yale Undergraduate Art School sent official documents by fax to DGU, stating that Shin had received doctoral degree from Yale.  With this confirmation from Yale, DGU appointed Shin as an assistant professor.

On, June 4th 2007, the chief management officer, Cho Eui-yon again received information that Shin's doctoral degree was fake.  Cho sent an e-mail to Susan Emerson in Yale Art School to confirm again whether Shin's degree was genuine or not, and a few days later Emerson replied that Yale did not have any record of Shin receiving a doctoral degree from Yale.

The Shin's scandal became public.  The Korean media asked Yale if Shin's doctoral degree from Yale was genuine.  Gila Reinstein replied that the fax which had been delivered to DGU on 22 September was inauthentic on the ground that the certificate design of Shin's was totally different from that of Yale. 

Also professor Schirmeister's assistant said Schirmeister had never signed nor sent a confirmation document to DGU.
Few months later, Shin Jeong-ah was arrested and the Korean prosecutor also sent a summons to Yale.  Then Yale began to reexamine deliberately whether the fax was genuine or not. 

Susan L. Carney from the Yale law school sent an e-mail to the DGU president Oh Young-kyo.  He wrote that he unintentionally provided false information to DGU.  If Yale put more care in confirming Shin's degree in the first place, DGU's reputation would not have been damaged.  Or, if Yale had not asserted falsely that its September 22nd fax document was a fake, DGU would not be a liar and Korea would not be seen as a protector of Shin. 

This led DGU to sue Yale for $50 million and all Donggukians hope the university will recover its image and win the lawsuit.

<What We Lost By Yale's Mistake?>

After the Shin Scandal, DGU has been severely damaged.  First of all, the competitive rate of 2008 DGU entrance exam is lower than any other time because of our image falling.  The total number of applicants decreased from 11991 to 10192, and the average competitive rate of all departments fell to 1.09 from 5.82.  The reason why DGU lost students' faith is that DGU has been regarded as unreliable to most Korean people. 

 Dongdaeshinmun, one of the DGU presses said, “The real problem is people's frozen stare at DGU and its students.  It is a sensitive problem to the DGU's future, because the school's development is closely connected with its students' faith.”

The second damage is that the Korean enterprises get to have distrust on DGU.  It is a serious problem to the job-hunting students especially.  In an interview with Josun Ilbo, the president Oh Young-kyo said, "All career seminars, which were going to be held in the last fall and winter by some of Korean large companies, such as SamSung, HanWha, HyunDai, were completely canceled because of Shin's scandal."  This situation seems to prove that the companies distrust DGU and its students after the Shin's scandal was disclosed.

And also Yale's false brought a decisive cause to DGU failed in to set up their own law school.  Establishing law school in Korea is related to university's long fame and credibility.  How can the government spend money on such a school that it cannot believe? 

DGU tried its best to specialize in cultural art for law school, but in the end, all failed to achieve the goals.
Alumni's supports in 2007 have decreased about 1 billion from 6 billion to 4.9 billion won.  This shows how much this scandal ruined DGU's 100-years-old heritage in such a short time. 

 Supports not only from the alumni but among faculty members and CEOs and even among branches in Buddhism had broken down in a one short time.  Especially the Jogye Order is afraid of losing its dignity and other branch of buddhists are claiming of the Jogye Order's morality. 

<Reponses About DGU Suing Yale>

After DGU submitted the lawsuit to the Connecticut District Court, foreign newspapers were reporting this event and a lot of overseas readers were paying attention to the event.  They drew diverse responses, and some of them are negative opinions towards DGU.

Here is one example.  One of the netizens, named Brian, commented on one web-site about this lawsuit.  He said that DGU's lawsuit is a wacky libel suit.  He also added "A number of Korean forged their academic career.  Maybe Korean people just needed somebody to pass their responsibility, and Yale was a good target to them."

There is Yale's response.  Tom Conroy, an Yale spokesman wrote on his letter to DGU like following: "We have apologized for not verifying Shin's fake degree. However, Yale has no responsibility on paying money that DGU has sued.  Because it's Shin's fault."  He argued that all DGU's loss are owing to Shin's fault and this issue has nothing to do with Yale University.

However, Dongguk University can't agree with Tom Conroy from the first point.  It is because Yale did not confirm properly at the first and Yale made DGU a liar to all Koreans.  Yale's fault should not be justified as a petty mistake.  In Korean society, once-diminished-name value is hard to recover.  Under Confucianism Korea had more emphasis on image than any other countries.  That is the reason why DGU wants to show its innocence to the public through official lawsuit and recover its image. 

DGU said "we can make a good relationship with Yale after we settle our losses to them,"  After that, "Yale hope that, once this matter is resolved with Yale's exoneration, Yale and DGU can have a better relationship" Conroy wrote in his e-mail. 

<DGU wants to escape dishonor through the lawsuit>

Due to this problem stated above, DGU had to require full responsibility from Yale instead of finding midpoint in the conflict.  Therefore, president Oh and DGU decided to sue yale even though president Oh received sorry letter in the new years day from Richard C. Levin, the president of Yale.  DGU was already dishonored and Korean people have thought that DGU told a lie and protected Shin.  Moreover, the trouble caused severe financial damage on DGU. 

Although DGU, confronted with false fax document, expended large sums of money, Yale did not make enough efforts to establish truth on Shin's doctorate degree. 

You Sun-hee, Kwak Gyu-ryeong  sunheeyou@dongguk.edu

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