Calcutta, July 13: The University of Chicago has not confirmed whether it awarded a PhD degree in linguistics to former vice-chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University, Pabitra Sarkar.
By virtue of this “qualification”, Sarkar has occupied important academic posts.
The Registrar of University of Chicago, Thomas C. Black, told The Telegraph in an e-mail message that “he (Pabitra Sarkar) did not receive a diploma, per se”. But he added: “I understand that he (Sarkar) met all the requirements for the degree”.
Black hastened to clarify that he cannot “attest” whether Sarkar met his degree requirements. “I cannot do so, as I do not specifically certify whether one has met degree requirements,” he said and referred the matter to Prof. Amy Dahlstrom, chair, linguistics department of the university. Repeated messages to Dahlstrom elicited no response.
At no point did Black confirm whether “meeting the requirements” translated into actually awarding the degree to Sarkar. This is despite the fact that as registrar he is the custodian of all university information and should usually be in a position to furnish it.
Academic circles said there is “a difference” between “meeting the requirements” and getting the degree.
Showing a copy of the examiners’ recommendation, Sarkar has claimed that this was a “provisional degree” issued to him by the university in 1975.
Why did he not procure the certificate for 29 years' Sarkar’s reply: “This is not important. I have the ‘provisional degree’ and that is enough for me.”
Officials familiar with procedures followed internationally insisted that the examiners’ recommendation cannot be treated as a “provisional degree”.
On the basis of this “provisional degree”, Sarkar was selected head of the Bengali department of Jadavpur University. The university authorities today told members of Jadavpur University Court (the equivalent of Calcutta University’s Senate) that “there was nothing to support Sarkar’s claim to be a doctorate”.
Sarkar produced a copy of a “certificate” issued by the then chairman of the linguistics department of the University of Chicago, Jerrold M. Sadock, in November 2003 that he had met “all academic requirements” for getting a PhD degree. But he did not mention whether there were any unfulfilled non-academic requirements.
Sarkar said his only “fault” was: “I did not wait for the convocation as one of my teachers told me that I need not.” He added that “the formalities that remained have been completed and they will send me my PhD certificate in September this year.”
No one has clarified what these “formalities” were and it still remains a mystery why Sarkar took 29 years to complete them.