Canadian University Lifts Embargo on Doug Mastriano's Dissertation

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After months insisting it was not possible — or even legal — to share a maligned doctoral dissertation by controversial U.S. politician Doug Mastriano, the University of New Brunswick suddenly made the document public in August, in a move that appeared to undermine excuses used to keep it secret in the first place.

Mastriano, the Republican nominee running to be governor of Pennsylvannia, rose to prominence there as an early opponent of mask and vaccine mandates to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and as an ardent supporter of former president Donald Trump.

A state senator, author and retired army colonel, Mastriano obtained a PhD in history from UNB in 2013, toward the end of his military career.

Numerous attempts to access the dissertation that Mastriano wrote in order to earn the doctorate have, however, been repelled for the last two years.

"The choice to embargo a thesis is at the discretion of the author, not the institution," UNB's Heather Campbell wrote in May, while rejecting a CBC request to access Mastriano's dissertation.

She said an author's reasons for not wanting work shared "are not scrutinized," and an embargo could last indefinitely under university rules.

"It is by default for four years, but an author may request an extension," she wrote.

That is contrary to the policy of many North American universities, which view scholarship as a public good to be shared except in rare circumstances.

For instance, York University in Toronto says on its website that its policy is to allow the embargo of a dissertation for a maximum of three years, and only when it meets certain conditions and is agreed to be necessary by a student's supervisor.


Mastriano cites the UNB doctorate in his campaign materials, and the dissertation has been used to counter criticisms of some of his controversial statements and actions that have emerged during the campaign, like an old photo showing him at an event dressed as a confederate soldier.

"Media MELT DOWN that Mastriano apparently once posed as a civil war historical figure," tweeted campaign legal advisor Jenna Ellis in response to that controversy. "He has a PhD in HISTORY."

As Mastriano's profile grew, a variety of media outlets and other parties attempted to access his heavily criticized dissertation on First World War hero Sgt. Alvin C. York but UNB insisted its policies and privacy laws prohibited it

In addition to Rodkey and the CBC, UNB also rejected requests for Mastriano's dissertation from the Associated Press and from University of Oklahoma graduate student James Gregory, who has become a vocal critic of errors in Mastriano's historical research.

"I don't care about Mastriano's politics. I live in Oklahoma," said Gregory in an interview.

Read entire article at CBC

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