Brief: Art history professor charged with forgery of doctorate indicted by authorities

A South Korean art history professor charged with faking a doctorate from Yale has been indicted for forgery by Korean authorities, according to news reports.

Shin Jeong-ah, 35, was an up-and-coming star in the Korean art world when the veracity of her 2005 Ph.D. from Yale was called into question over the summer — but not before she had landed jobs as a professor at the prestigious Dongguk University and the new director of a prestigious arts exhibition. A Yale spokeswoman repeated Wednesday that there is no record of Shin’s ever having attended the University.

Shin was indicted Tuesday on 10 charges, including forging degrees from Yale and the University of Kansas, as well as embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the museum she curated, the Sungkok Art Museum. Officials also indicted a former top aide to President Roh Moo-Hyun who allegedly peddled his influence to land Shin her prestigious jobs despite the fact her degree’s being fabricated. Prosecutors described their arrangement as a “sex for favors” situation.

When confronted this summer with allegations that she faked her degree, Shin maintained her innocence and vowed to come to New Haven to prove she attended Yale. The professor cited a 2005 facsimile — supposedly from Graduate School Associate Dean Pamela Schirmeister — that said Shin enrolled in the Graduate School in August 1996 and graduated with a doctorate in history of art in 2005.

“I certainly did receive a degree from Yale, which is proven by the document Dongguk received from Yale in 2005,” Shin told Seoul’s Chosun Ilbo daily newspaper in July, vowing to go to court to put an end to the “conspiracy” about her degree.

That fax was apparently a fabrication, too, and misspelled “Schirmeister”, according to a University spokeswoman. The degree Shin allegedly forged also had significant errors and bore the signature not of University President Richard Levin but of emeritus professor Howard Lamar, who served as acting president for one year before Levin took office in 1993.

- Thomas Kaplan

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