New Brunswick

Moncton university says LaPierre won't harm reputation

The president and vice chancellor of l'Université de Moncton does not believe the scandal surrounding the falsified credentials of former professor Louis LaPierre will have a long term impact on the university.

President Raymond Théberge believes the Louis LaPierre scandal is an isolated incident.

The president and vice-chancellor of the University of Moncton does not believe the scandal surrounding the falsified credentials of former professor Louis LaPierre will have a long-term impact on the university.

LaPierre admitted in a statement released last week that he lied when he claimed to have a PhD in ecology from the University of Maine.

An investigation by CBC and Radio-Canada New Brunswick found LaPierre's doctorate came from Walden University in Minnesota, and was in the field of education, not science.

In his statement LaPierre said he was withdrawing from his position as a professor in the biology department after 31 years.

Théberge says he is going one step further and recommending to the senate of the university that LaPierre's status as professor emeritus be withdrawn.

"The emeritus is given for the body of work one has done based on the integrity of his body of work and clearly I have questions of the integrity of the body of work of M. LaPierre," said Théberge.

"I think if one is not grounded in certain kinds of science one should not be making statements."

Théberge says he only became aware of questions around LaPierre and his credentials when it was first reported by Radio-Canada.

He says in the difficult meeting between LaPierre and university officials, LaPierre admitted to misrepresenting his qualifications and certain documents.

"Every time these kind of  allegations come forward it is hard for the academic community, it's hard on the community at large in the sense that we feel somewhat betrayed."

Théberge confident LaPierre an 'isolated case'

Théberge says hiring and vetting of professors has changed significantly since LaPierre began at the university in the 1970s.

He says at the time people completed the appropriate checks and LaPierre's documents were accepted at face value.

"M. LaPierre had a very strong public presence and that was sufficient in the eyes of many to indicate that he had the qualifications to do what he did."

Théberge does not believe that degrees of graduate students who had LaPierre as an academic adviser are now tainted.

"When you have an adviser, be it M. LaPierre or somebody else, there's a jury also which basically looks at the thesis and pronounces a judgment and the jury is made up of internal professors and external professors and as a result the value of the work is judged by many people and not just the adviser."

Théberge says the university has a strict vetting process in place which is part of the collective agreement and hiring is completed through a peer review process.

In addition the university has an office of professional affairs which looks into the academic background of candidates.

"The possibility of this happening again is remote, but we never say never. I remain confident that it is an isolated case."

Théberge says it is a difficult blow for the university in the short term, but he does not believe it will hurt in the long run.