The dean of Boston University's College of Communication, John J. Schulz, has acknowledged that he misstated information on his academic résumé when he wrote he was one of only two Oxford doctoral students to win approval of their dissertation in social studies in 1981.
Schulz also had written that he was among 19 students who presented dissertations during the same period when he earned his doctorate from the English university. In fact, Oxford's social studies faculty awarded 30 such degrees in 1980-81 and 41 in 1981-82, according to the university.
Schulz, dean since 2003, said including the wrong information was unintentional, but two other erroneous facts about him have popped up in the BU student newspaper, The Daily Free Press. In those cases, Schulz said he was uninterested in asking for a correction. ''I did not in any way mean to embellish a résumé or deceive anyone," Schulz said Tuesday, referring to his claim about Oxford. ''I'm just speechless that I could be that sloppy in that line. I just feel terrible for it, and I will take responsibility for it."
Schulz has been a controversial figure within the communications school. He has been praised by some professors as a tireless advocate for the school's needs and criticized by others who say he is autocratic and self-aggrandizing.
A BU spokesman said the university would investigate allegations of academic misconduct if they are submitted to the provost.
Schulz said he had meant to write on his résumé that he was one of only two or three out of perhaps 12 to get the degree in his particular field, international relations, a part of social studies. He said the number 19 was a typo.
Renata Adler, a professor in BU's journalism program, recently began raising questions about the dean's résumé in e-mails she sent to Schulz and other professors. Schulz said Adler is on a campaign of ''character assassination" because her contract was not renewed. Adler could not be reached yesterday, but previously said she did not want a new contract.
Schulz has been the subject of controversy before. In 1999, he stepped down as chairman of the department of mass communication, advertising, and public relations after acknowledging he read a passage from a magazine in class without attribution. Many professors saw it as an understandable accident. A Daily Free Press article about the incident said Schulz, who played football at the University of Montana, was an All-American athlete. Schulz was not.
Both the story's author, Adam Swensek, now a law student at Tulane, and retired professor Norman Moyes said last week that the misinformation probably came from Moyes. Moyes told the Globe that Schulz set him straight after the article appeared.
A 2003 article in The Daily Free Press stated that Schulz was the author of ''several books." He has not published any books. Patrick Gillooly, the student who wrote the article, said he got his information from Schulz, but could not say with certainty that Schulz had made that particular claim.
''I can't respond [to the student paper] without creating secondary controversies," Schulz said. ''You have to understand I've never taken the student paper very seriously -- these are kids."
Schulz's biography on the communications school website notes that his career as a reporter for the Voice of America in Asia included coverage of ''the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1987-89)." But Schulz said Tuesday that he never reported from Afghanistan. He disagreed that the wording suggested he did report from Afghanistan, saying that ''I reported every day on the war in Afghanistan."
As a writer, Adler is known for her heated attacks on individuals and institutions, including The New Yorker, where she worked for many years. Her most serious allegation against Schulz is that he exaggerated his heroism in Vietnam in a 2003 interview with the student paper. Schulz described how, as an Air Force F-100 fighter pilot, he would continue on his missions even when he ran out of ammunition, to distract the enemy.
Schulz's squadron commander in Vietnam, William E. Haynes, a retired lieutenant colonel, confirmed Schulz's account. ''He was going lower and pressing harder than the other guys," Haynes said. ''The Air Force did not hand out those awards for fake missions." Military records confirm that Schulz won the awards he contends he did, including the Silver Star.
Bombardieri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.