When Cristi Turpin completed her doctoral dissertation and defended it before her committee at Southern Illinois University (SIU), she assumed she had a doctorate in the bag. Supposedly armed with her sheepskin, she began applying for jobs and listed the degree on her curriculum vitae.
Eventually, she landed a $160,000-per-year position at McCarthy Building in St. Louis. But when McCarthy checked with SIU, the university claimed to have no record of Turpin being awarded her doctorate.
Four years after her supposed graduation, Turpin had to contact the school to show it her work. The university assured her that it was a clerical mix-up and even sent her an e-mail stating she had met the degree’s requirements. Meanwhile, members of the dissertation committee that had originally reviewed Turpin’s work began asking her to make further revisions to her thesis before they would allow the degree to be posted.
So when McCarthy called back to reconfirm Turpin’s degree, the university’s computer system continued to show she hadn’t earned her doctorate. The company fired her for lying on her job résumé.
Now Turpin is suing the dissertation committee members.