|▲ Delay in appointment of CWNU president- elect raises concerns of leadership vacancy (Source: CWNU Waagle)
The concerns are rising as the election of the 9th CWNU President is being delayed. On August 30, CWNU held elections for the 9th presidency, Professor Park Min- won (Dept. of Electrical and Electronics Control Engineering) and Professor Song Shin- geun (Dept. of Accounting) as the first and second priority candidates respectively. Following a research authenticity verification, the university was set to recommend these two candidates to the Ministry of Education. At CWNU, a national university, once the university recommends its presidential candidates to the Ministry of Education, the President appoints the candidate upon the recommendation of the Minister. The university had set a recommendation deadline according to relevant regulations, which was September 25, 30 days before the current president's term expires. However, the recommendation has not taken place due to ongoing verifications regarding suspicions of plagiarism and dual publication in the candidate's research papers. This has raised concerns of a potential leadership vacuum.
According to the research ethics verification results announced by CWNU before the presidential election, candidate Park Min- won's research papers showed a plagiarism rate of 55% published in an international academic journal in 2016. The usual criteria for determining plagiarism in papers are more than 15- 20%. The issue of dual publication has also come up. In 2017, candidate Park published an English paper in an overseas journal, and a similar paper with a matching title and content was published in a domestic journal the following year. A university spokesperson stated, “In the verification process of presidential candidate Park Min- won, allegations of research ethics violations, including plagiarism, are under investigation by the university's internal committee. There is no specific timeline for making a recommendation to the Ministry of Education.” In the delay of the verification, candidate Park has stated, “The paper with a 55% plagiarism rate was already clarified in its content before the election, and the allegations of dual publication were acknowledged as a simple error by the international academic journal, leading to the withdrawal of the publication.” He expressed regret over the prolonged verification process for over a month since the election, saying, “I hope to have another opportunity to clarify once more regarding the committee's explanations.”
To deal with these allegations, CWNU's Research Ethics and Authenticity Committee held a closed- door meeting on October 5th, and the preliminary investigation has concluded. Currently, a main investigation committee composed of experts is administrating the verification process. In response, candidate Park has stated that he will earnestly clarify the situation. During a conversation with Gyeongnam News on October 10th, he mentioned, “The investigation committee is currently conducting the verification process, and when they contact me for clarification, I will respond. I haven't received any communication from them yet.”
Even if the controversy is resolved soon and a recommendation is made to the Ministry of Education, there will still be a verification process at the ministry level, which typically takes some time. As a result, it seems inevitable that CWNU will be running in a deputized presidency system for several months following the retirement of President Lee Ho- young. According to the university's regulations, the President for Academic Affairs will take the role of acting president in the event of a vacant presidency. Both inside and outside the university, there are concerns that if the presidential vacancy situation persists, it may disrupt the university's efforts to participate in the 'Glo- cal University 30' Project, which provides universities financial support of 100 billion KRW over five years by the Ministry of Education. An official from CWNU stated, “Next year is a pivotal moment for enhancing the university's competitiveness, including the implementation of the Glo- cal Project. The absence of the president is a cause for concern as it may have a negative impact on the university, and organizational stability is urgently needed.”
It has been nearly two months since the presidential candidate election, and as of now, there has been no recommendation to the Ministry of Education. As originally planned, it seems necessary to expedite the recommendation process to the ministry for the initially selected candidates. The appointment of the university president is a matter of great importance both for the smooth operation of the institution and for our students. We hope that the upcoming verification steps, recommendations, and appointment process will conclude smoothly, leading to the prompt appointment of a new president who will guide our university.
By Kim Han-seul, cub-reporter email@example.com
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