Friday, August 8, 2008

The Mayor's Thesis

The mayor of Ruhmannsfelden, a small town of about 2000 souls in Bavaria, has a problem. The local newspaper went digging around for some dirt on this CSU politician, and found something fishy.

His Diploma-Thesis (approximately a Master's Thesis) in construction engineering, which was submitted to the Czech Technical University of Ostrava in 1999 seems to have a few problems. It is about renovating the city center of Ruhmannsfelden. They Bayerwald Wochenblatt reports that during the 90s the mayor payed an architects company (with tax money) to prepare some ideas on renovating the city center of - surprise - Ruhmannsfelden.

The thesis submitted carries his name, but it seems he was a little careless and didn't notice that every page carried a little logo on the top - the logo of the architect's company. Weeeeeel, the mayor said, but he was very involved in the project. Neeeeee, says the architects, he was not more involved than your average mayor.

The district attorney's office is now active in the case and trying to get the Czech university to initiate action, as is the engineering board. The university, however, does not really answer the letters requesting to know the admittance regulations, the course of study that the Lord Mayor followed, and the circumstances of the awarding of his degree. They don't really want to get into it.

Perhaps this is a case of someone submitting a plagiarism to a diploma mill? Germany has very little experience with diploma mills and is just now coming to terms with rampant plagiarism. The TU Ostrava seems to be above the board, except for their "Lifelong learning" program, which is unfortunately in Czech.

In Germany, foreign titles have to be officially accepted in order to be used, so the DA is accusing him of wrongfully using a title. It will be interesting to see where this goes. As one of the persons quoted said, they have never seen a case like this before.

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