Gabriel Oprea, a general with four stars, became a university professor and doctoral supervisor following numerous violations of the law. He benefited from the complicity of several state institutions: the Ministry of National Defense (MApN), the Ministry of Education, the “Carol I” Defense University, the Police Academy and the National Intelligence Academy “Mihai Viteazul”.
Although he only competed for a position as professor once in his entire academic career, in this article we will discover how Oprea became professor at the most important military-based higher education institutions in Romania. He transferred from one university to another twice: meaning his position as a university professor has not been legal, according to existing education laws established since 1990.
Gabriel Oprea did not respond to messages seeking his point of view on the subject.
Destiny before qualification
Gabriel Oprea’s journey towards obtaining the status of university professor and doctoral supervisor commenced on February 7, 2000, thanks to then Minister of National Defense, Victor Babiuc. He signed MApN order no. 100 through which Oprea was appointed Deputy Director at the National Defense College (CNAp).
After Oprea started his role in management at CNAp (an institution under the umbrella of the National Defense University), the official posting of a position as university professor was a simple formality. The job was evidently destined to be his.
The director of the CNAp was, at that time, General Nicolae Uscoi, with whom Gabriel Oprea co-authored three books (published in 1999, 2001 and 2005).
In 2000, Oprea was also elected Vice-President of the Foundation of the National Defense College. The president of the Foundation was Mihai Vasile-Ozunu, a close friend of his who at the time of writing is the director of the College.
In 2001, when Gabriel Oprea became a professor, there were two laws and a mandate regulating the organization of competitions for positions as university teaching staff: Education Law no. 84/1995, republished in the Official Gazette no. 606 / 10.12.1999, Law no. 128/1997 regarding the status of the teaching staff and the Order of the Minister of Education no. 5723 / 15.03.1994 stating the criteria regarding the validation of competitions for the occupation of reaching positions, specifically as lecturer and university professor.
I reconstituted the way in which Gabriel Oprea became a university professor and doctoral supervisor based on the answers to the questions I sent to the National Defense University, the National Defense College, the Police Academy, the National Intelligence Academy of the SRI, the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Education.
On March 2, 2001, two months after Gabriel Oprea defended his doctoral thesis and two weeks before the Minister of Education confirmed his doctoral title, the Academy of High Military Studies (currently, the National Defense University “Carol I”) posted the following announcement in the Official Gazette no. 138, (the third edition) and in the Military Observatory no. 10 of 2001: position three, officer, specialty in the law of armed conflicts”.
This was regarding the availability of a position as university professor at the Department of National Security and Defense within the National Defense College.
It was the position that Gabriel Oprea would officially occupy a few months later.
The Senate of the Academy of High Military Studies also fulfilled the most important formality before the competition that would ultimately give Oprea the title of university professor: on May 3, 2001, it approved the competition commission proposed by the professional council of the National Defense College.
The chairman of the commission was the brigadier general, Prof. Dr. Constantin Onișor (currently the director of the Doctoral School of the National Intelligence Academy), and the members – Colonel, Prof. Dr. Mihail Vasile-Ozunu, the commander Prof. Dr. Constantin Coderie, Colonel Prof. Dr. Constantin Hlihor and Brigadier General (r) University. Prof. Dr. Ion Suceavă.
The competition was held in June 2001, and the Senate of the Academy of High Military Studies validated the result in the same month. The Rector of the Academy formally requested confirmation of the title by address no. D2564 / 20.06.2001, submitted to the National Commission for the Certification of University Titles, Diplomas and Certificates (CNATDCU).
The confirmation of the result was announced in the CNATDCU meeting on July 13, 2001, and on August 2, 2001, the Minister of Education, Ecaterina Andronescu, issued Order no. 4224 by which Gabriel Oprea was granted the title of university professor.
Thus, precisely 6 months and 15 days had passed between the moment when Gabriel Oprea defended his doctoral thesis and when he became a university professor.
In order to qualify for a position as university professor, Gabriel Oprea had to go through two distinct stages.
The first: to draw up his file on the basis of which he could register for the contest, respecting the criteria of the laws mentioned above.
Second: to hold a lecture and undergo an interview.
The content of the file is vital for any candidate for a university teaching position. On the basis of the file, the criteria stipulated by the methodology of organizing the contest are verified. One can only pass the second stage after obtaining the official notice from the legal department of the university organizing the competition.
From thesis submission to the Minister’s order: 2 months
The first condition stipulated in the application process was that Gabriel Oprea submit his application along with his doctoral diploma. This was also the most important requirement provided by Law 128/1997 on the status of teaching staff.
Oprea defended his doctoral thesis on January 18, 2001, within the Doctoral School of the Faculty of Law at the University of Bucharest. His PhD supervisor was Professor Ion Neagu, and from the support committee, besides the coordinator, Professor Nicolae Volonciu, Professor Vasile Dobrinoiu and Professor Dr. Tudor Amza.
In an exclusive article from July 1, 2015, Hotnews presented evidence suggesting Gabriel Oprea’s doctoral thesis was plagiarized. Neagu and Volonciu are two of the authors whose work Oprea plagiarized in his doctoral thesis, along with the work of Nicolae Iorga.
On March 16, 2001, less than two months after Oprea had defended his doctoral thesis, the Ministry of Education and Research, led by Ecaterina Andronescu, issued Order no. 3467 by which Oprea was awarded the title of Doctor of Law.
The Order was drafted at a striking speed, especially taking into consideration the fact that the bureaucratic stages, which must be completed after the thesis presentation, are extremely precise and depend on a significant number of people and institutions.
Meanwhile, in February 2001, Gabriel Oprea, who at that time was a member of the PSD, (like Ecaterina Andronescu), had been appointed president of the National Administration of State Reserves, with the rank of secretary of state.
The documents attesting the progress of the doctoral studies, the reports, and the references, together with the information regarding the thesis defense, had to be sent by the Doctoral School of the Faculty of Law, in duplicate, to the Doctoral Office of the University of Bucharest.
This Doctoral Office normally has the task of formally verifying and examining a copy of all the documents. The second copy of the file is sent further to the Ministry of Education, specifically to the National Commission for the Certification of University Titles and Diplomas (CNATDCU).
This body, through its specialized commissions, has the power to verify the doctoral thesis, including the ability to check whether or not it was plagiarized. It then gives its opinion and, on this basis, the Minister issues the order granting the title of “Doctor.”
In Gabriel Oprea’s case, all these stages were completed at an amazing speed, so he obtained his doctorate degree in just two months. In the academic environment, it is known that the minimum duration – from the moment of the support to the one of issuing the minister’s order – in the best case scenario takes four months.
Only one personal book. The requirement mentions two
Only one personal book has his name as the primary author. The requirement specifies two.
According to Law 128/1997, there is a second criteria one must meet in order to become a university professor: a minimum of nine years in higher education or scientific research.
Gabriel Oprea did not meet this requirement.
Candidates who apply for the said position and who do not meet this requirement (have not accumulated the necessary experience in education or scientific research) could still be considered in the running if they have a minimum of 15 years of activity in the profile of the position for which they have applied. (Article 55, paragraphs 2 and 7 of Law 128/1997).
Gabriel Oprea did not meet this requirement either.
According to his C.V., he graduated from the Military School of Officers in Sibiu in 1983 and worked in the Ministry of National Defense until 1993, when he was put in the reserves, which means only 10 years of accumulated experience.
However, to his advantage, Oprea used another provision regarding the status of teaching staff in Law 128/1997, article 56, second clause: “People in higher education … who play a unique role in the field of the position for which they are competing – demonstrated by specialized work of national and international value – may submit an application (with the approval of the university senate), to the competition for the purpose of occupying a teaching position in higher education, without fulfilling the conditions of seniority established in article 55 paragraph (6) or (7), depending on the specific case”.
In order to fulfill this compensatory criterion, Gabriel Oprea was made associate professor at the National Defense College (CNAp), a fact mentioned in his C.V. The exact date when this occurred, however, is uncertain.
In his official C.V., Gabriel Oprea states that he has been an associate professor since 2001. In an official answer received from CNAp, it is once again declared: “Mr. Gabriel Oprea became an associate professor at the CNAp in 1994, due to the proposal of CNAp’s professional council and with the approval of the Senate of the Academy of High Military Studies“.
Gabriel Oprea obtained an exemption from the Senate of the Academy of High Military Studies in order to fully comply with the provisions of article 56, paragraph 2, as stated in a response received from the Ministry of Education.
However, the opinion of the Senate of the Academy of High Military Studies raises some question marks, considering that Gabriel Oprea did not, as required by the law, “play a unique role in the field of the position for which was competing – demonstrated by specialized work of national and international value.”
According to the Ministry of Education, beyond these legal provisions, the higher education institutions were required to take into account the way in which the competition methodology was formulated as well as the Order of the Minister of Education no. 5723 / 15.03.1994. The latter specifies the criteria regarding the validity of competitions for the occupation of the didactic positions as lecturer and university professor.
According to this Order, three criteria were compulsory to be validated as a university professor:
(1) The competitor should have published at least 30 research papers in national and international journals and at least two personally written books in his field of studies;
(2) The published works should cover the disciplines assigned in the roles and responsibilities of the respective position;
(3) The competitor should have national and international prestige attested by academic awards and should be a participant in international congresses as a reference.
I asked the Ministry of Education and the National Defense College for copies of the public documents that appear in Gabriel Oprea’s only application for professor, such as the list of his research papers as well as his C.V.
Both institutions replied that they do not have a copy of “Mr. Gabriel Oprea’s application on file so we cannot offer you copies of his C.V., list of research papers nor his file as a whole.”
In a discussion with a representative of the Press Office of the MApN, an institution that is in charge of the National Defense University and the National Defense College, we were informed that the requested documents could only be made available to us with the consent of Gabriel Oprea. Law 544/2001 on free access to information of public interest clearly provides the category of information that can be made public, without mentioning that the author must first grant his permission.
Based on the assumption that Gabriel Oprea published articles in the Foundation Magazine of the National Defense College, an institution that he was appointed vice president of in the year 2000, we decided to ask the National Defense University for access to the whole collection of this magazine.
In an official response, we were informed that the publication does not exist in the library belonging the National Defense University, nor in that of the National Defense College. In fact, this magazine was neither in the National Library of Romania nor in any of the libraries belonging to the various military education institutions around the country.
In the year he became a university professor, Gabriel Oprea’s name appeared on five books, but only in one book as a single author: OSCE, Organization for the 21st Century, published at the Foundation of the National Defense College. The criterion to successfully apply for this position specified that the applicant “must have authored at least two books.’
This requirement was also not met.
An illegal transfer from the Defense College to the Police Academy
Gabriel Oprea’s C.V. contains, in fact, a series of false information regarding his editorial activity from 1999-2001. However, this information was taken into consideration when he applied for the university professor position.
He presents himself as the primary author in the case of three publications – a blatant lie. Thus, the book Introduction to International Humanitarian Law, published in 1999 at the Cartega Publishing House in Bucharest, is primarily written by Nicolae Uscoi, who was the director of the National Defense College in 2000.
Another book signed first by Nicolae Uscoi and then by Gabriel Oprea is entitled Studies in International Humanitarian Law, which came out on the shelves in 2001 at the Foundation of the National Defense College in Bucharest. Also in 2001, Elements of the Romanian Art of Strategy became available at the Foundation of the National Defense College in Bucharest and the authors of the book are, apparently, Constantin Onișor, Mihail Vasile-Ozunu and Gabriel Oprea. Oprea’s name is the last one to appear on the cover.
Through individual responses, the Ministry of National Education and the National Defense College confirmed that although Gabriel Oprea obtained the title of professor at the National Defense College, “he did not actually occupy the position at CNAp“, not even for a single day, and was simply an associate professor in CNAp.
In fact Oprea, who is the current president of UNPR party, had one goal: to obtain the title of professor at CNAp, an institution where he had been the Deputy Director since 2000 and in which he had a considerable amount of leverage. More importantly, his long-term plan was to get into the Police Academy.
Gabriel Oprea became a university professor at the Police Academy in October 2001, following a transfer from CNAp. According to the provisions of the Law on education and the Law on the status of teaching, the hiring of the titular or associated teaching staff can only be done only through an organized competition.
Moreover, Article 58, paragraph 1 of Law 128/1997 on the status of teaching staff stipulates that “the teaching positions provided for in Article 53, paragraph (1) shall be occupied by means of a contest organized by the institutions of higher education. The institutions must be accredited or provisionally authorized. The competition is valid only for the higher education institution immediately responsible for that competition“.
This article not only excludes the transfer, but also turns it into an illegal procedure.
Sebastian Bădiță, a lawyer and founding member of the EDU CER association, told us that both the old and 2011 Education Law categorically prohibit the occupation of a teaching position without an organized competition…
“The notion of ‘transfer without competition’ does not exist in the field of higher education between different institutions, because the law stipulates that a previously held competition is valid only for the higher education institution where it was announced. Criminal, civil or administrative consequences can be placed on guilty persons, based on certain terms of limitation“, explains Sebastian Bădiță.
As of July 31, 2008, Gabriel Oprea has been officially employed as a university professor and doctoral coordinator at the “Mihai Viteazul” National Intelligence Academy (ANIMV).
And he also came to this position through a transfer.
According to an answer received from ANIMV, “Mr. Gabriel Oprea transferred both the duties of university professor and those of doctoral supervisor, within ANIMV, in conformance with the law and based on a decision of the ANIMV Senate, on the date of June 25, 2008. “
The lawyers who were consulted on this matter stated that a decision of the university Senate could not be higher than the provisions of a law. Moreover, a decision of the Senate of a university must interpret the law in letter and spirit, and may not constitute a derivation from the law.
At least three unfulfilled criteria for supervising doctoral candidates
The way in which Gabriel Oprea obtained the title of doctoral supervisor at the Police Academy and at the National Intelligence Academy is littered with illegalities and legal compromises.
We reconstituted the stages and procedures of the former Deputy Prime Minister with the help of public documents. However, although I requested a copy of the public documents from the competition file through which Oprea obtained the title of doctoral supervisor from the Police Academy, we were officially told that this file is currently at the National Academy of Information of SRI. Neither the National Intelligence Academy nor the Ministry of Education has responded to a similar request.
Gabriel Oprea became a doctoral supervisor in the field of Public Order and National Security through the mandate of the Minister of Education and Research no. 484, declared on October 30, 2002, just one year, two months and 28 days after obtaining the title of university professor.
At that time, the requirements for organizing the competition to appoint a new doctoral supervisor were regulated by Order no. 5103 of the Minister of Education, of July 5, 1999.
The field of Public Order and National Security was included in the Military Science category, for which the specific evaluation criteria for conferring the title of doctoral supervisor were the following:
– To maintain didactic activity of at least 10 years in higher education and/or scientific research, of which at least 3 years have been completed after obtaining the doctoral degree.
In 2002, if we refer to the date when he became a university professor at CNAp, Gabriel Oprea had didactic experience in higher education for just a little over a year. If we refer to the answer received from CNAp, which states that Oprea became an associate professor in 1994, then he still only had 8 years of experience, not a minimum of 10 years, as the criteria stipulated.
In addition, the time frame of didactic activity for three years after the date of obtaining the title of doctor was also unfulfilled. In Oprea’s case, he only had one year, seven months and 14 days of activity.
Requirement not met.
– To have published at least six to eight scientific works of reference (books, textbooks and university courses, treatises, monographs, studies taken on by prestigious publishers), of which at least three are the applicants primary work.
In 2002, according to his own C.V., Gabriel Oprea had published five books, and prestigious publishing presses published none of them. That being said, only one of these books was his primary work.
Requirement not met.
– To have expanded upon at least 30 research articles or studies, published in prestigious journals or gathered in collections and introduced into the scientific circuit, of which at least 20 are primary work.
In his public C.V., Gabriel Oprea does not mention any article or study published in any scientific journal. If, however, he had indeed published one in the Journal of the Foundation of the National Defense College, this publication would, by no stretch of the imagination, meets the requirement. Thus, there is no public information attesting this requirement was met.
– To be an author (co-author with an essential contribution) in the elaboration of at least 10 academic resources: scientific research, military exercise or complex combat applications.
There is no public information attesting that this requirement was met.
– To have supported (published) at least 25 scientific communications included in the sessions of scientific communications books, as well as in specialized publications and in the files of scientific and methodical training summons.
There is no public information attesting that this requirement was met.
– To prove active scientific and advertising activity in the last 3 years.
There is no public information attesting that this requirement was met.
– To have published the doctoral thesis in whole or in part.
Gabriel Oprea published his doctoral thesis in 2008, six years after he became a doctoral supervisor.
Requirement not met.
In 2007, the Minister of Education, Mihail Hărdău, issued Order no. 356, on February 15, 2007, for the approval of the Methodological Specifications regarding the confirmation of status as doctoral supervisor. The issuance of this document obliged all doctoral supervisors in Romania to reconfirm their status in order to maintain their position.
Since the Ministry of Education refused to provide us with a copy of the public documents from the competition file by which Gabriel Oprea became a doctoral supervisor (in 2002), and then was reconfirmed (in 2008), we can assume that he published the doctoral thesis in 2008 in order to check off at least a few minimum requirements on the list.
Gabirle Oprea’s reconfirmation was made by Order no. 4963 on July 31, 2008, and was signed by the then Minister of Education, Cristian Adomniței.
In reality, Gabriel Oprea’s entire career as a university professor does not exist. Based on our research, he never taught courses at the National Defense College, where he chose to retain only the status of associate university professor.
Sources from the Police Academy and the National Intelligence Academy of the SRI claim that Gabriel Oprea has never worked as a university professor in these institutions, but has only played the role of doctoral supervisor. In fact, this status seems to have been the great academic objective that General Oprea set for himself over the last 15 years.
The above article essentially says the following:
1. In June 2001, just three months after Minister Andronescu confirmed Gabriel Oprea’s title of doctor through the issuance of an Order, Gabriel Oprea became a university professor. This is despite the fact that he had not been teaching for nine years in the department nor did he have 15 years of experience in the field, as requirements of the position stipulated within the competition’s job profile, in accordance with the law.
In order to be able to enter the competition, he received a dispensation from the Senate of the Academy of High Military Studies. The law also required that the candidate should have published at least two books in his field of specialization in order to obtain the title of professor. Gabriel Oprea had published only one book.
2. After obtaining the title of university professor at the National Defense College, Gabriel Oprea transferred to the Police Academy on the same application and, subsequently, to the National Academy of Information of SRI, although, according to the Law of education, “the competition is valid only for the one respective higher education institution “.
3. In October 2002, Gabriel Oprea also became a PhD supervisor, in violation of the provisions of the law from that date:
– he did not have teaching activity for at least 10 years in higher education;
– at least three years had not elapsed since obtaining the title of doctor;
– he had not published his doctoral thesis, even partially;
– he had not published at least six to eight scientific papers of reference;
– had not published at least 30 articles or studies;
– had not made an essential contribution to the elaboration of at least 10 scientific research papers.
But perhaps the most pertinent of all these facts is that Gabriel Oprea never stood before a group of students as a university professor, neither at the National Defense College, nor at the Police Academy, nor at the National Intelligence Academy.
However, he supervised 21 doctoral candidates who obtained their doctoral degrees in Military and Information Sciences: nine at the Police Academy and 12 at the National Intelligence Academy.