This past week, Doug Lynch, vice dean of the graduate school of education at the University of Pennsylvania and a former member of the NYU faculty, quietly resigned following an investigation concerning the authenticity of his claimed doctoral degree. Following an article published by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the University of Pennsylvania launched an investigation about Lynch’s academic past and he was placed on leave. Soon after, he resigned.
Lynch claimed to have a master’s and doctorate degrees from Columbia University, and to have obtained them in 2005 and 2007. Columbia officials revealed that Lynch did in fact have a master’s degree, but did not obtain it until 2010. He is apparently part of Columbia’s Ph.D program, but has yet to finish his degree.
The University of Pennsylvania graduate school spokeswoman remarked that Lynch, in regards to his doctoral degree, “mistakenly believed that it was complete.”
While at NYU, Lynch created Corporate Learning Services, which “works with organizations to provide customized, strategic learning programs geared to a company’s unique needs” and educates employees at the university level. CLS has partnered with JetBlue, Ritz-Carlton Hotels, American Express, and Clear Channel Communications in the past. Lynch also claims to have completed an MBA in international finance from NYU.
The issue revolves more around integrity rather than the issue of the degree itself. Though some staff at University of Pennsylvania felt that Lynch should not have served on dissertations committees without a doctorate, the graduate school spokeswoman make clear that university rules require there be only three members with a doctorate on the committee.
We agree with Ronald Ehrenberg, director of the Higher Education Research Institute at Cornell University, who remarked that it is “almost impossible to believe” that Lynch would be so unsure of the status of his degree.