Jaclyn A. LaPlaca: Claimed she had a degree she didn't





Last year the university hired about 260 full- and part-time faculty. Every department, school and college handles these hirings based on their individual policies within the university's guidelines.

This year already welcomes a new president and dean. Additional faculty positions have been approved in fast-growing fields such as journalism and fashion design. Those don't even touch on the routine replacements and part-time faculty the university hires every year.

In 2003, the university hired an assistant professor to teach history at its Stark campus. They thought she had the master's and doctorate degrees she claimed to have from University of Oxford in England.

She didn't.

Kent State officials said the case of Jaclyn A. LaPlaca shouldn't have fallen between the cracks and don't know how it did.

LaPlaca worked at Stark for two years, quit and took a job at a university in Pennsylvania in 2005, where she is currently employed.

How can the university ensure that this doesn't happen again?


What happens next

Gayle Ormiston, associate provost for faculty affairs and curriculum, said Kent State will not take any action against LaPlaca or make any policy changes when it comes to hiring faculty. The university does not know of any harm to students, he said, and any courses she taught still count.

"We (the Stark campus) employed her," Ormiston said. "We assigned her to teach. We assigned her to teach under the assumption that whatever she told us was the truth. We're not going to go back and tell the students it doesn't count."

This doesn't happen often, he said....

Someone at the Stark campus had anonymously contacted Oxford questioning LaPlaca's degree completion, Ormiston said. Frances Lannon, a principal at Oxford, contacted Ormiston in August 2005 to inform him that LaPlaca did not have a valid degree from her university. A principal is like a provost, Ormiston said. Several phone conversations and a letter were exchanged.

At this time, LaPlaca had already left Kent State and was employed at Marywood University in Pennsylvania.

LaPlaca was never granted a doctoral-level degree and her master's-level degree was revoked when she was found guilty of plagiarism, according to a letter from Lannon to Ormiston. Oxford in turn expelled LaPlaca.

The Daily Kent Stater obtained copies of this letter and all other documents in LaPlaca's personnel file through a freedom of information request....


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