By Jörg Diehl and Oliver Trenkamp in Düsseldorf and Berlin
German Education Minister Annette Schavan has long been dogged by accusations that she had plagiarized parts of her Ph.D. thesis. Now, the University of Düsseldorf has revoked her degree. She may be forced to resign from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet.
It was shortly after 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday evening when Bruno Bleckmann, a professor of ancient history at the University of Düsseldorf, stepped in front of the waiting journalists. He quickly strode up to the microphone to deliver his statement. A faculty board, Bleckmann said, had arrived at the decision to declare German Education Minister Annette Schavan’s Ph.D. thesis “invalid and to revoke her doctor title.”
Based on an internal university analysis of Schavan’s doctoral thesis, which she submitted in 1980, and on her own statement regarding her work, the committee voted 12 to 2 to invalidate her academic title, Bleckmann said. There was one abstention. “As a doctoral candidate, she systematically and deliberately presented intellectual efforts throughout her entire dissertation that were not her own,” Bleckmann said. Large sections of the work, he continued, had been taken from elsewhere without adequate attribution. As such, she was guilty of “intentional deception through plagiarism.”
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