Saturday, February 9, 2013

Schavan Saga Continues

I seem to have spent the last three days giving interviews and have a large pile of exams to grade, so just a few short lines:

The media frenzy around the dissertation of the German education minister has died down for a bit, awaiting her return from a trip to South Africa. Many media have just made clear, that she will have to step down in order to deflect criticism from her office and to give her party a fighting chance in the elections in September. I assume that they are writing their articles about her resignation and looking into possible new candidates.

Interestingly, some of the "titans of science" who issued statements supporting Schavan were accompanying her on the trip (Tagesspiegel). Many have attacked the University of Düsseldorf, but there have also been many supporters. One of the best articles I've read to date is from a former colleague, Raúl Rojas: Guttenberg und Schavan: die Doktoren der Herzen (Guttenberg and Schavan: Doctors of the hearts):
"Ein Engel hat mich reingelegt", ist glaubwürdiger als alles, was Frau Schavan bis jetzt von sich gegeben hat. ("An angel deceived me," is more believable than anything that Ms. Schavan has uttered in this matter).
Meanwhile, the University of Lübeck planned to be conferring an honorary doctorate on Schavan in April or May of this year. They insist that they will continue to so so, although there is apparently some dissent. She already has four honorary doctorates.

And she is still scheduled to be opening the school education fair in Köln, didacta“, on February 19. I will be speaking there on February 20 on scientific misconduct in schools and universities. Maybe she will stay on a day, if she is still in office, or I go earlier and we can have a chat?


  1. Excellent article by Raul Rojas there. I am especially stunned about the apparent practice of conferring honorable degrees. These universities should be ashamed of themselves now. I presume honorable degrees cannot be rescinded?

  2. No, honorable degrees cannot be rescinded. They are theoretically given for some great deed that people have given, however, they are often used to give people who "need" a doctorate or a professorship the necessary title. This may be for some benefactor of the university or for someone who did something great for the university.

    Schavan did jump in and keep the state of Schleswig-Holstein from closing the University of Lübeck. However, I would personally think that conferring a special status as honorary senator would be more fitting than an honorary doctorate, as a doctorate is supposed to be about research.


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