Art History Professor: Lawsuit Accuses Yale Of Making False Statements About Fake Degree

Historians in the News

A prestigious South Korean university under fire for hiring a professor who lied about her credentials contends in a federal lawsuit that Yale caused a national uproar by wrongly confirming she had earned a degree there, then falsely denying it had done so.

Dongguk University is seeking more than $50 million in damages, saying Yale's actions "severely tarnished" its stellar reputation, sparked a criminal probe, cost employees their jobs and led to a decline in donations, government grants and student applications.

In 2005, Yale mistakenly confirmed that it had awarded an art history doctorate to Shin Jeong-ah, a disgraced former professor of art history and curator at Dongguk. The lawsuit contends Yale initially claimed its confirmation of the degree was a forgery and denied that it had received an inquiry from Dongguk.

"Dongguk University was publicly humiliated and deeply shamed in the eyes of the Korean population," the lawsuit says. "Because of the false statements made by Yale University, the Korean media reported and significant segments of the Korean population believed that Dongguk University had improperly hired Shin, that it had never contacted Yale University and that it had tried to cover up its inaction by relying on a forged document."

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