The year 2002 will be known in the history of Romanian education as the first year a doctoral program did not correspond to any scientific field of study was established: Public Order and National Security.
The founding of the first specialized school for doctoral studies, the Police Academy’s Alexandru Ioan Cuza, came as a package deal with the emergence of a new “academic” field. To make it more suspicious, three PhD supervisors were named: Gabriel Oprea, Costică Voicu and Ioan Dascalu.
Ecaterina Andronescu was the Minister of Education who approved all of these firsts through mandate.
The first two PhDs were awarded a mere one and a half years after the admission of candidates to the newly formed Doctoral School of the Police Academy in the equally new scientific field of Public Order and National Security.
Radu Timofte (1949-2009), former Director of the Romanian Intelligence Service, and Marcel Sâmpetru, former Vice Deputy of the Attorney General of Romania, achieved this remarkable feat of obtaining a PhD in record time, 18 months.
14 years later, Romania has no less than 287 doctors in the field of Public Order and National Security. Among them, the individuals who hold public office are:
• Ionel Marin and Dumitru Zamfir – former Deputies of SRI Director Radu Timofte;
• George Balan, prosecutor, former vice-president of the SCM;
• Remus Şpan, former head of the Technical Department within the Department of Intelligence and Internal Protection (DIPI), subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs;
• Alina Bica, former chief prosecutor of the Directorate for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorist Offenses (DIICOT);
• Florentin Costel Pandele, Mayor of Voluntari;
• Robert Negoiţă, Mayor of Sector 3 Bucharest;
• Adrian Petrache, businessman, Dorin Cocoş and Alexandru Bittner’s partner;
• Corvin Nedelcu, former Secretary General in the Ministry of Economy;
• Claudiu Ţupulan, member of the Doctoral School of the Police Academy;
• Bogdan Despescu, the current Chief of the Romanian Police;
• Viorel Vasile, the current head of the Capital Police;
• Ion Ţincu, the current head of the Bucharest Local Police;
• Christian Ciocan, former spokesman for the Capital Police;
• Dumitru Pârvu, former Deputy Chief of the Romanian Police;
• Mircea Man, PNL MP.
Of the total 287 doctoral dissertations, a number of them are suspected of plagiarism. Florentin Pandele has already received a final verdict from the National Council for the Certification of Titles, Diplomas and University Certificates (CNATDCU), while Robert Negoiţă received a similar verdict from the Ethics Commission of the Police Academy.
Dumitru Pârvu and Adrian Petrache have faced public plagiarism accusations, exposed by HotNews, which are yet to be officially investigated.
This summer, the new Rector of the Police Academy, Daniel Torje, announced with great enthusiasm that all the doctoral dissertations completed within the two Doctoral schools of the Police Academy will be verified.
It has been three months since that announcement was made, yet the outcome of the investigation is still not publicly known, and the Ethics Commission of the Police Academy was dissolved after all its members resigned in September.
Act I. Inventing a New Field of Study
How is it possible that a concept related to the safety of citizens – Public Order and National Security – could become a field of doctoral study? How can it be possible for something that is not a science to be transformed into an area of academic specialization?
The answers can be found in the pages of dozens of minutes, reports, decisions and orders that have hidden a structural aberration, giving the impression that the entire process was legal.
The establishment of the Doctoral School in Public Order and National Security, at the Alexandru Ioan Cuza Police Academy, occurred with the brilliant ascent of Gabriel Oprea at the university.
Several people who work in the field of education pertaining to national defense and who prefer to remain anonymous, have identified the former Deputy Prime Minister and current Minister of the Interior, Gabriel Oprea, as the mastermind behind this anomaly.
However, only one individual has spoken publicly about a certain “scientific lobby of conviction” carried out by Oprea.
“I have many flaws, but here are my main qualities: I am well organized. I became a General when I turned 40, I have also become a professor at 40, indeed, almost always functioning at an exceptional level, but I fought for this job, you know. I sought to have as much coverage as possible, ” stated Gabriel Oprea in an interview conducted by Narcisa Iorga and published by Evenimentul Zilei in February 2003.
“Organization” and “coverage” are the terms that can be used to define Oprea’s entire university career, a career based on a number of quantifiable illegalities.
First, in January 2001, he became a Doctor of Law based on a plagiarized doctoral dissertation, a fact HotNews disclosed in 2015.
Second, in August 2001, he was appointed university professor at the National Defense College. However, since it was not an academic institution, he did not have the right to apply for a position at the university level – which includes a teaching position.
Third, in October 2001, he illegally transferred to the Alexandru Ioan Cuza Police Academy; the law of education explicitly prohibits the transfer of professors between universities.
PressOne has been extensively reporting these illegal activities since 2016.
All of these strategic moves indicate that Oprea, who was Prefect of the municipality of Bucharest at the time he set out in this direction, had been pursuing a singular objective: to become a doctoral supervisor in a new field of study.
The terms “organization” and “coverage” also accurately describe the establishment of the new doctoral field of studies: Public Order and National Security (within the Police Academy).
Officer Costică Voicu (image), who was the Rector of the Police Academy at the time the Doctoral School was inaugurated, argues that “in 2002, there was a focus on widening the scope of institutions that could potentially acquire the status of Doctoral Institution in the area of Public Order and National Security”.
It is difficult to understand the logic behind the notion of ”widening the scope”, given the fact that the Police Academy became the first and still is the only educational institution in the world with a Doctoral School in Public Order and National Security.
The first step taken by the Police Academy to be able to establish this Doctoral School was to send a particular request. The request went to the Ministry of Education, as well as the National Council for the Certification of Titles, Diplomas and University Certificates (CNATDCU).
Based on the replies to our questions regarding this inauguration process, neither the Police Academy, nor the Ministry of Education, nor the CNATDCU have copies of the documents that were required to start this Doctoral School.
Through the use of other publicly available documents, we were able to trace the steps taken in order to establish the Doctoral School.
Three steps for setting up a scientific field of studies
According to the Ministerial Order no. 4939/1999, the status of Doctoral Institution could be granted if three conditions were met:
• The educational institution was accredited in specializations corresponding to the respective doctoral field;
• had research programs and infrastructure that allowed for the development of specific academic pursuits in the respective doctoral field;
• had at least three doctoral supervisors in the respective field, with one or more supervisors were transferred from another Doctoral School. If any one of the three professors received the status of doctoral supervisor at the same time as the Doctoral school was established, this was acceptable as well.
According to these provisions, the Police Academy made two separate requests:
1) To establish the doctoral field of Public Order and National Security;
2) and to request the status of an Official Doctoral Institution.
The application was registered on Friday, October 4, 2002, at the Ministry of Education. From there, it was directed to the CNATDCU, a step that was verified in the document archives of the above-mentioned institution.
Since the Police Academy requested that the future Doctoral school in Public Order and National Security be under the umbrella of the field of Military Sciences, the request was sent to be analyzed by the CNATDCU Military Sciences Commission.
The history of the anomaly
According to the Ministerial Order no. 4890/1999 regarding the doctoral fields being studied at that time, the Military Sciences consisted of Military Art and Military Logistics and were being taught at the Carol I National Defense University.
After the emergence of this new field of study, Public Order and National Security, and its inclusion in the Military Sciences, a distortion in the area of Military Science became apparent: suddenly PhDs had nothing to do with military art or military logistics and were increasingly focused on issues related to the field of Law, Political Science or International Relations.
This deviation was also observed at the National Intelligence Academy belonging to the SRI, where a second, unscientific doctoral field was invented. In 2008, the CNATDCU also approved the field of Military Sciences and Intelligence in addition to the establishment of a Doctoral School in this institution of higher education.
On Tuesday, October 8, 2002, only one working day after the file was registered with the Ministry of Education, the CNATDCU Military Sciences Commission approved the establishment of this new doctoral area of studies: “Public Order and National Security”. In addition, the Police Academy was awarded the title of official Doctoral Institution in the field of Military Sciences.
The specialized committee of the CNATDCU justified their decision with the following explanation: “The Commission agrees with the Police Academy’s incentive to organize and allow the pursuit of doctoral degrees in the field of Public Order and National Security. As a result, we propose the establishment of this research field that is required by life (sic!) as necessary PhDs, which need to be undertaken in Romanian society (sic!)”.
The document (photo) was signed by all the members of the Military Science Commission: Liviu Habian (deceased), Florentin Vasile Moraru, Constantin Onişor, Constantin Romanoschi, Ion Suceava (deceased) and Gheorghe Toma.
Gheorghe Toma and Constantin Romanoschi have not responded to phone calls.
Instead, Constantin Onişor, who was a doctoral supervisor at the Carol I National Defense University, as well as the Director of the SRI’s National Intelligence Academy Doctoral School, explained at length how the field of Public Order and National Security was established. Onişor was the vice president of the CNATDCU Military Science Commission at the time.
“The initiative, the internal regulations, the connection to the national regulations came exclusively from the Ministry of Interior, through the Police Academy. There were substantial discussions regarding the definition of the new field of “Public Order and National Security”. The area that now exists was vaguely expressed in the official documents of the state as a dimension of national security. Then the convention was made that it is also associated with the Law, which was a faculty within the Academy. “
The scientific lobbyist, Gabriel Oprea
Constantin Onişor argues that the CNATDCU Military Science Commission was made up of several professors from the Police Academy who appealed for the establishment of the Doctoral School in Public Order and National Security. Among them were rectors Costică Voicu and Pavel Abraham, and later on, Ion Suceavă, who was not only a professor at the Police Academy, but also a member of the CNATDCU Military Sciences Commission.
Onisor also states that Gabriel Oprea carried out a “scientific lobby of conviction” in order to inaugurate this new field of studies.
When asked what this “scientific lobby” was about, Onisor clarified the meaning of this statement in detail:
“That is, Gabriel Oprea made it a point to explain. He explained that, in fact, this field of studies is more of a convention. The main purpose of introducing this field of studies was to create a space where it could be elaborated and extended to a part of Romanian reality that required its breadth and depth… and where it is still needed.
We accepted this for development reasons. I did not compromise; I did not do them a favor. I said that it is good to advance in this particular area, even if it may have seemed like a superficial academic area of studies in the Military Sciences. I processed the documents, and Habian was responsible for seeing them through in the CNATDCU. There, the application was not seen, yet it is certain that it became a recognized field of studies”.
Three days after discussions in the CNATDCU Military Sciences Commission, on October 11, 2002, in a meeting led by Eugen Simion, who was then president of the CNATDCU, the establishment of the doctoral field of Public Order and National Security was approved. In addition, the official status of Doctoral Institution in the field of Military Sciences was granted to the Police Academy.
These two decisions only became applicable after they were declared through a ministerial order.
The Ministerial Order no. 4820 of October 24, 2002, approved the establishment of the PhD area of studies of Public Order and National Security within the fundamental field of Military Sciences.
The approval report of the Minister’s Order, no. 4820 of October 24, 2002 is dated to October 25, 2002 (photo), although it would have been logical for it to have been prepared before the Minister’s Order rather than after.
It took a week until the Order was issued to the Police Academy, ultimately affording it the status of Doctoral Organizing Institution. The reason it took a week was because it was necessary for the third legal requirement to be fulfilled simultaneously: three doctoral supervisors who would coordinate this field had to be assembled out of thin air – quickly.
Thus, in just one week, Gabriel Oprea, Costică Voicu and Ioan Dascălu competed for jobs at the Police Academy in order to become PhD supervisors in the field of Public Order and National Security, and the CNATDCU Military Science Commission accepted them in their new positions.
The Ministerial Order no. 4847 of October 30, 2002 granted the Police Academy the status of Doctoral Organizing Institution, and the Ministerial Order no. 4848 from October 30, 2002, conferred the title of PhD supervisor to Gabriel Oprea, Costică Voicu and Ioan Dascălu.
The Minister who sealed all these documents is Ecaterina Andronescu.
Act II. PhD on the fast track
Since the 2002-2003 academic year had already started before the establishment of the field and before the Doctoral School had been officially inaugurated, the first admissions to this doctoral program were organized by the Police Academy at the beginning of the second semester, on February 15, 2003.
A provision in the Law of Education stipulates that “the admission process to doctoral programs is to be done through the means of a competition, and is organized on an annual basis, usually at the beginning of the academic year”.
The first PhD students admitted were: Radu Timofte (photo), then Director of the SRI; Marcel Sâmpetru, First Deputy of the General Prosecutor of Romania; Ionel Marin, Deputy of the SRI’s Director; Adrian Petrache, who is a businessman from Adrian Năstase’s circle of friends and Alexandru Bittner’s business partner.
They each had Gabriel Oprea as their PhD supervisor.
The four achieved an unbelievable feat as doctoral candidates: Timofte and Sâmpetru publicly defended their dissertation one year and six months after commencing the program and Marin and Petrache – after only one year and seven months.
According to the Government Decision no. 37/1999, regarding the organization and evolution of the doctorate, the period of time taken to complete a doctoral program was about four years, and up to a maximum of seven years.
The path taken by PhD students Timofte, Sâmpetru, Marin and Petrache was identical. Based on an official response received from the Police Academy, they each passed three examinations and wrote three papers on the same date. They also had the same doctoral committees, with the newly elected supervisors: Gabriel Oprea, Costică Voicu, Ioan Dascălu and Ion Suceavă.
The three subjects addressed in the examinations taken by PhD candidates Timofte, Sâmpetru, Marin and Petrache are Law-related topics and have nothing to do with Public Order and National Security: General Theory of Law, Legal Protection of Human Rights and Criminology.
According to a response from the Police Academy, the last of the exams taken by the doctoral candidates was held on December 23, 2003, the day before Christmas Eve, when universities are usually closed for the holidays.
And the doctoral committee was also the same for all four candidates, comprised of Gabriel Oprea, Costică Voicu, Ion Suceavă, Gheorghe Toma and Vasile Ozunu. The latter two mentioned professors are well-known close friends of Gabriel Oprea.
Gheorghe Toma supervised the doctoral theses of Gabriel Oprea’s daughter and son-in-law, while Vasile Ozunu was on both of their PhD committees, as reported by PressOne.
A brotherhood of supervisors and doctoral students
Gabriel Oprea was the official doctoral supervisor in Public Order and National Security and responsible for the “emergence” of the first Romanian “Doctor” in this field, Radu Timofte, who was the Director of the SRI at that time.
Timofte publicly defended his thesis on August 25, 2004, during the thick of the summer holidays, when universities are normally closed. The names of those present were recorded by the press, in an article published by Adeverul they were: Ioan Mircea Pascu, Minister of Defense, Nicolae Popa, president of the High Court of Cassation and Justice, Virgil Măgureanu, former director of the SRI, and Gheorghe Onişoru, president of the College of the National Council for the Study of Archives (CNSAS).
Seven years later, when he transferred from the Police Academy to the SRI’s National Intelligence Academy where the doctoral school in Military and Intelligence Sciences had just been established, Gabriel Oprea became the first doctoral supervisor in this field as well.
Oprea also accomplished another first at this educational institution: he coordinated the thesis of the first doctoral candidate who later became a Doctor in Military and Intelligence Sciences: the SRI’s Vice Deputy Director, Florian Coldea.
When asked how it was possible that a doctoral candidate was able to submit his dissertation 18 months after his admission into the doctoral program, Costică Voicu, who is the former rector of the Police Academy, and also a member of Radu Timofte’s thesis supervisory committee, told us that such a thing is not possible.
“I do not believe it happened. Did this take place at the Academy? It is impossible. I cannot conceive it, because the law clearly states that it must take at least three years.”
When I told him that not only was it possible, but that he himself had been on Radu Timofte’s supervisory committee, Costică Voicu clarified his point of view:
“If the documents were reviewed and verified … How was it possible? Well, it is possible! If the man completed his doctoral thesis in such a short period of time, then it’s possible! What’s the problem? There is an exception to any rule!”
Once again, Gabriel Oprea did not respond to the phone or to the email messages I left requesting his point of view on the matter.
The Police Academy’s second Doctoral School
The Police Academy has a Doctoral school in the field of Law, in addition to the one in the field of Public Order and National Security. The Doctoral school in law has existed since 1992, but in recent years, the numbers of both doctoral supervisors as well as the number of doctoral students have lowered.
Since 1992 to the date of publication, the Police Academy has awarded 354 doctorates in the field of Law. However, only four dissertations were submitted in 2016, eight dissertations in 2015 and 14 in 2014.
On the other hand, the field of Public Order and National Security has seen a boom in recent years. Since the school was founded in 2002, up to 287 doctoral degrees have been awarded. This year 32 dissertations have already been submitted, in 2015 there were 42 dissertations, and in 2014, there were 23.
Currently, there are 19 qualified professors in the field of Public Order and National Security. Eight of these have received the right to supervise doctorates in the past three years.
These include Daniel Torje, the current Rector, and a graduate of a sports-related degree, and Claudiu Ţupulan, a member of the CNATDCU working committee that gave the initial non-plagiarist verdict in the case of Petre Tobă, the former Interior Minister. Ţupulan himself is accused of plagiarism.
The interest that the Police Academy has shown in the field of Public Order and National Security is indicated by the number of doctoral candidates that have been allowed into the program: 70, compared to 24 in the field of Law, totaling 94 at the institution.
For comparison’s sake, the other two Doctoral schools belonging to the military universities (having also faced plagiarism charges), admitted fewer doctoral students combined: the SRI’s National Intelligence Academy admitted three while the Carol I National Defense University admitted 66.
Act III. How to view the problem inside and out
Professors with a specialization in the field of defense have half-heartedly acknowledged that the Police Academy has a doctoral school in an unscientific field, but they continue to ascertain that the awarded doctorates remain useful.
Professor Constantin Onişor (photo), former member of the CNATDCU Military Sciences Commission, says that this field of studies is useful because it is about national defense.
“At that time, in 2002, national defense was regarded as an obligation within NATO, but also as an internal necessity pertaining to the rule of law, the social environment, civil society, and the citizen.
Considering the fact that that the main funding at the time was related to the military dimension, I made this compromise.
We will not go out with the rifle and the cannon, but we will go with appropriate structures, which are also militarized,” says Constantin Onişor.
Professor Damian Miclea of the Police Academy, who is a doctoral supervisor in the field of Public Order and National Security, presents a different point of view.
“I do not consider it to be a science on its own, with its own domain, objectives, features, etc. It is a domain delimited by others – social, economic, cultural – by the specificity of public safety and national security. The domain of Public Order and National Security is composed of many structures that may have their own regulations or components of sciences adapted to the field, such as law, exact sciences, medicine. It is debated whether their integrated management is a distinct science or a procedure in certain situations. Personally, I think it is a procedure “, claims Damian Miclea.
Professor Marian Zulean of the Faculty of Sociology at the University of Bucharest, specialist in military sociology and security studies, states that the field of Public Order and National Security is not considered a science anywhere in the Euro-Atlantic area.
“The problem with awarding doctorates in the field of Public Order and National Security must be considered based on the general context of the last two decades: the exponential growth of the number of doctoral students, without the evaluation of these doctoral schools, but also in the special Romanian context, where doctorate programs were created overnight, using the framework of vocational education institutions, such as former military schools.
I haven’t heard of the field of “Public Order” as still being considered a science in the Euro-Atlantic area. In order for an area of studies to be considered a science, it must have a particular field of study (one might say that the work of policemen or gendarmes can be a field of scientific interest) as well as a set of specific methods of scientific research (a component that this field does not have). “
Professor Zulean also says that the topics, which have been addressed in the PhDs in the area of Military Sciences, are general ones, easy to cover within the fields of sciences such as Political Science, Sociology, Criminology or Law.
“I think this field, like that of “Military Sciences “or” Intelligence”, should organize only professional doctorates,” adds Zulean.
On the other side, Professor Costică Voicu, former rector of the Police Academy, had a brief hesitation when asked about the field of Public Order and National Security:
“Which science does Public Order and National Security belong to?
Since we are discussing a doctoral field of studies, it means that research must be done using the scientific method, as it should be a scientific field.”
Voicu immediately responded to his own question with an answer:
“In the same way we have Military Science, so too we have sciences pertaining to police legalities. If you want a more rounded name, this field of studies belongs to the police sciences. Of course, you can maintain your own point of view, but don’t overemphasize your opinion about it not being a science. This is an area that needs to be investigated, yes sir! There are so many issues revolving around all things police related.”
University professor Adrian Miroiu (photo), from the National School of Political and Administrative Studies (SNSPA) and specialist in educational policies, considers that one of the explanations for the emergence of an immense number of specializations, “some more hallucinatory than others”, stems from the desire of universities to attract as many students as possible, but also to have as many teaching positions as possible.
“It is necessary to distinguish between two aspects: first, each area of social life can and should be studied scientifically. The field of Military Science, Information and Public Order is no exception. But the question that must be considered above all else is as follows: is this an area so specific that it calls for a scientific approach distinct from those we encounter in other areas of social life? And here, my answer is a firm no.”
Professor Miroiu considers it unacceptable that under the umbrella of the field of Military Sciences studies, Information and Public Order, theses that address topics from other social sciences are proposed. However, these topics do not take the theories and methodologies of those sciences into account. Additionally, they do not meet the academic standards of a doctoral dissertation.
“A field of research is not given as such a priori, it is not given by its “object”, but by the research method, by the theoretical frameworks used. I believe that the fields of Military Sciences, Information and Public Order can be scientifically researched by calling on theories and methods used by researchers in other fields – for example, those in law or sociology or political science.
Therefore, I believe that the Military Sciences, Information and Public Order fields are part of the Social Sciences, that they must use the same theoretical frameworks and the same research methods as these, and the research products within them should be evaluated with the same standards as those in other fields.”
Adrian Miroiu also has a solution that may solve this situation: the Military Science, Information and Public Order Commission within the CNATDCU should no longer function as a separate unit, but should be integrated into the one of Sociology, Political Science, Administrative and Communication Sciences. In this way, all doctoral theses would be evaluated according to the same standards.
University professor Adrian Ivan, the new Director of the SRI’s Doctoral School of the National Intelligence Academy, embraces this idea. At this institution, at least seven theses were suspected of massive plagiarism, and nine holders of the doctoral degree requested that their degree be withdrawn.
“In Romania, there has been a significant amount of conceptual confusion for a long time. In any International Relations and Security Studies textbook in the United States, the country where this field of studies was created, the strategic objectives regarding the security of the citizen, the fight against organized crime and economic crime can be found in the field of Security Studies.
It would have been logical for areas such as Public Order and National Security, Military Sciences, Intelligence and National Security to be integrated into this field,” believes Adrian Ivan.
Finally, Professor Miroiu also argues that for a reform to happen in this field, it is necessary to extend the same standards applied by the Commission of Sociology, Political Sciences and Communication Sciences to the fields of Military Sciences, Intelligence and Public Order. These are the standards that the Commission uses for conferring degrees and research degrees.