“Digital doctorate” embarrasses WCC sec gen Kobia
The Rev. Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), has had to drop his Ph.D in religious studies from his resumé because it came from a U.S. diploma mill that was never accredited and no longer exists. Ouch!
Kobia told a news conference in Geneva he had no idea that the Louisiana-based university had no right to award the degree he got in 2004 after three years of work via the Internet.
“Hearing of the status of Fairfax University was a shock to me. I followed their programme in good faith,” said Kobia, a 60-year-old Methodist from Kenya. If it’s any consolation, Sweden’s Labour Minister Sven Otto Littorin had to purge his CV of a Fairfax MBA last year after a blogger broke a similar story.
It’s interesting to note who broke the Kobia story. The news first came in a report from Geneva on Tuesday by the Evangelischer Pressedienst (epd), the German Protestant news agency. It landed just before a meeting of the WCC central committee that is due to re-elect Kobia for another five-year term as head of the global Christian grouping of 349 churches (mostly Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox) that represent more than 560 million believers.
Kobia is the only candidate, but he has been criticised by some European church leaders for his extensive travel and his management style. The issue has apparently not been discussed in public at the central committee but there are rumours in the corridors that some churches from the Global North were against him. But the feeling is that he’ll get the Swedish treatment — an embarrassment and a scare, but he’ll be able to keep his job.
Do you think Kobia or Littorin could have failed to notice their university was dodgy? Do you think resumé fraud — intentional or not — should lead to dismissal?