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Dongguk’s Suit Against Yale Still Stands By Rebecca E. Neely This week, Yale University lost its second bid, following the decision of U.S. District Judge Tucker Melancon, to toss out the allegations by Dongguk, a South Korean university, that it lost millions of dollars after Yale damaged its reputation.

Per the 2008 lawsuit, Dongguk University claims it made a decision to hire an art history professor after Yale erroneously confirmed the individual had earned a doctorate at Yale. In addition, per court documents, the professor, Shin Jeong-ah, had an affair with an aide to South Korea’s president, creating further scandal. Dongguk is a Buddhist-affiliated university in Seoul, and is taking Yale to task to the tune of $50 million. Dongguk claims it lost funds totaling that amount from a variety of sources, including government grants, alumni donations and the cost to build a law school. A large portion of Yale’s motion for summary and judgment was rejected by Melancon, though he did grant Yale’s request to dismiss a civil charge of reckless and wanton conduct. But, he permitted the Dongguk’s allegations of defamation and negligence to stand. A trial is scheduled for June. According to the February 13th newsday.com article, “Yale loses legal fight in fake degree lawsuit”: Robert Weiner, a New York City lawyer serving as counsel for Dongguk was quoted as saying: “We were very pleased with the decision. We believe we have lots of damages we can establish at trial.” Dongguk is regarded as the most prestigious Buddhist university around the globe. Per the article, attorneys for Yale provided no comment, but Yale university officials stated, per the article, that the suit is

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“without merit and they would defend against it.” The background: in March 2007, Shin was sentenced to 18 months in a South Korean jail for using fake Yale credentials to get the professor’s job at Dongguk, as well as for embezzling museum funds. In addition, she falsified two degrees from the University of Kansas. In June of 2007, Yale told Dongguk that Shin had not earned a doctorate at the school, and said a letter verifying the degree Shin presented to Dongguk was fake. In addition, Yale told Korean media it’d never received a registered letter in 2005 from Dongguk that questioned if Shin had received a doctorate. Though Yale apologized to Dongguk in late 2007 for what it termed an ‘administrative error’, it was too late, per Dongguk officials. Dongguk University is a private, coeducational university in South Korea. It operates campuses in Seoul, in Gyeongju City, North Gyeongsang province and in Los Angeles. Founded in 1906 by Korea’s ecumenically minded Jogye Order, Dongguk continues to be one of the few Buddhist affiliated universities in the world. However, it accepts student and teachers of all faiths and philosophies. Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University is an American private Ivy League research university, founded in 1701. It is the third oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Yale employs over 1,100 faculty to teach and advise an estimated 5,300 undergraduate and 6,100 graduate and professional students.

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Dongguk's Suit Against Yale Still Stands