February 13th, 2012 | University

Korean degree scandal will go to trial

South Korea's Dongguk University sued Yale for $50 million in 2008, claiming the University had negligently confirmed the authenticity of a doctorate degree forged by one of Dongguk's faculty members.
South Korea's Dongguk University sued Yale for $50 million in 2008, claiming the University had negligently confirmed the authenticity of a doctorate degree forged by one of Dongguk's faculty members. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

A Connecticut federal judge rejected Yale’s request to dismiss a case filed by Dongguk University claiming that Yale damaged the South Korean university’s reputation and caused it to lose millions of dollars, the Associated Press reported today.

The initial $50 million lawsuit, filed in 2008, was based on the allegation that Dongguk University hired a professor, Shin Jeong-ah, after Yale mistakenly confirmed that she held a doctorate from the University. Shin was a professor and the chief curator at the Sungkok Art Museum in Seoul until 2007, when she was caught embezzling from the museum and her Yale degree was revealed to be forged.

Dongguk’s lawyers claimed in 2009 that Yale acted negligently through its incorrect confirmation of Shin’s degree and its delay in publicly announcing the error. The suit also claims that internal Yale emails show the University officials did not take the matter seriously. In legal proceedings leading up to the trial, Yale officials called their confusion over Shin’s degree an “innocent mistake.”

In 2008, Yale began to require the use of internal records rather than external documents to verify degrees.

A trial is scheduled for June, according to the Associated Press.