Leadership & Governance

Vice Dean at U. of Pennsylvania Resigns After Bogus Doctorate Is Exposed

April 26, 2012

A vice dean at the University of Pennsylvania resigned on Thursday after it was revealed that he had misrepresented his academic credentials.

Douglas E. Lynch, vice dean of the university's Graduate School of Education, quit after having falsely claimed on his résumé that he received a doctoral degree in philosophy, economics, and education from Columbia University.

Penn officials initially told The Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday that they had known about the misrepresentation for several months, had levied "appropriate sanctions," and had decided to keep Mr. Lynch in his leadership role. But later on Wednesday, after an Inquirer reporter sought comment from Amy Gutmann, Penn's president, the university changed its tune and immediately placed Mr. Lynch on leave "pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation."

On Thursday the university accepted Mr. Lynch's resignation, and it now "considers the matter closed," Stephen J. MacCarthy, vice president for university communications, said in an e-mail.

Mr. Lynch was admitted to a Ph.D. program in philosophy at Teachers College of Columbia University, according to Columbia, but he has not yet received a degree. Mr. Lynch is currently enrolled in the program, and has until the end of the spring 2012 semester to complete all the requirements for the degree, according to Columbia.

A spokeswoman for the graduate school at Penn told the Inquirer that Mr. Lynch had mistakenly believed his doctoral degree was complete.

Columbia said Mr. Lynch did receive a master's degree in philosophy at Teachers College in 2010. The Inquirer reported that Mr. Lynch had misstated information about that degree, too, saying on his faculty Web page at one point that he received the master's degree in 2005. That same faculty Web page also incorrectly stated that Mr. Lynch completed his doctorate in 2007, according to the Inquirer.

A version of Mr. Lynch's résumé that was available on Penn's Web site on Thursday morning listed the doctoral degree from Columbia, but it did not list any dates for any of his degrees. The file showed that the résumé was last modified in February.

Mr. Lynch's résumé also lists an M.B.A. in finance from New York University and a B.A. in economics from Arizona State University. Both institutions confirmed that Mr. Lynch had indeed received those degrees, in 1995 and 1987, respectively.

Mr. Lynch was hired by Penn in 2004. He previously worked at New York University, the College Board, and Arizona State University, according to his résumé. He did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Correction (4/30/2012, 5:08 p.m.): This article originally stated imprecisely where Columbia University said Mr. Lynch received a master's degree in philosophy in 2010. It was at Teachers College at Columbia, not at Columbia itself. The article has been updated to reflect this correction.