The second act of the drama ended around 7:00 p.m. today when it was announced that the Senate of Semmelweis University had revoked President Pál Schmitt’s doctoral degree. There were 37 people present; 33 voted for the resolution and four opposed it.
Of course, this is only act two. Now comes the decision whether Schmitt should be able to remain in his post. Pál Schmitt indicated that he has every intention of staying. Apparently, he came to like the position and all its privileges. His office certainly acts as if nothing has happened. On its website the president’s schedule for the next few days is duly noted. On the other hand, Schmitt’s Facebook page had to be taken down because of the rather impolite comments and demands for his resignation. According to Népszabadság Orbán is undecided about Schmitt’s fate.
It is always interesting to go back and read earlier analyses and discover some points that during the first reading didn’t seem terribly important but in hindsight are significant. This is what happened to me today when I remembered a lengthy portrait of Pál Schmitt by József Nagy in the May 2005 issue of Mozgó Világ. Among other things, it challenges Schmitt’s veracity at several turns, in effect describing him as a habitual liar.
Then there was the interesting but unexplained fact that Index reported back on March 20. The diligent reporters who have been spending countless hours on Schmitt’s past discovered an item in a monthly entitled Labdarúgás (Football) published by the Állami Ifjúsági és Sporthivatal (State Office of Youth and Sports) that was headed by Schmitt with the title of undersecretary. It was noted in the September 1988 issue that Schmitt already had a dissertation ready. This original thesis had a different title: “The Analysis of the Olympic Program.” The one Schmitt submitted in 1992 was entitled “The Analysis of the Program of the Modern Olympic Games.” Note that the 1988 version of the dissertation bore exactly the same title as Nikolai Georgiev’s work on the same subject written in 1987. What happened to this earlier dissertation? Index was hoping that the Semmelweis Committee investigating Schmitt’s plagiarism case would look into the question of this earlier dissertation. I’m sure they didn’t.
There can be at least two possible explanations for why this 1988 dissertation wasn’t submitted at the time. One is that his since deceased dissertation adviser considered this first effort of such inferior quality that he advised Schmitt to rework it. In this case the first dissertation was actually Pál Schmitt’s handiwork. The other possibility is that it was such a blatant copy of Georgiev’s work, including its title, that someone warned him about the dangers of submitting it, especially so close to the publication date of the Bulgarian researcher’s book. In either case, I’m coming more and more to the conclusion that the dissertation that was submitted by Schmitt was compiled by someone else. I purposely use the verb “compiled” because it was put together from different sources (some written after 1988) and translated more or less verbatim.
Yesterday Index asked its readers to get to work and find out where the few pages that were still unaccounted for in Schmitt’s dissertation came from. The tally as of yesterday was that of the 225 pages we know the source of 212. So, a mere 13 pages were still in question. Less than 24 hours later the diligent researchers found the sources. Because there were two. What took a committee two solid months was achieved within a few hours by the Googlers.
The missing 13 pages concerned women’s sport. It was a whole chapter with the title “The Role of Women in Sports.” As one of the volunteer detectives discovered, part of this chapter was the exact translation of Anita L. Defrantz’s “Progress Made, Pitfalls and Conditions for Further Advancement of Women in the Olympic Movement.” This article appeared in the same book from which whoever wrote the dissertation lifted Klaus Heinemann’s article–Sport, the Third Millennium (Vancouver, 1991). Clinching the case is that Schmitt’s thesis mentions Olympic games held in 1924 when there was no such thing. Defrantz makes the same mistake.
Another “researcher” found a possible connection to Nadia Lekarska’s article “The Entry Marathon of the Second Sex” that appeared in The Olympic Review (September 1990).
All in all, it is likely that not a line in the dissertation is original, and there is a good likelihood that even the translated compilation is the work of somebody else.