You’ve Been a Bad, Bad Hoya: Don’t lie about being a Georgetown PhD

Bad Hoya

A gaze as piercing as the Eye of Sauron.

When looking at the pantheon of notable Georgetown alums, it can be hard to believe that Hoyas can do the world wrong. The sad case of recent alumna Elizabeth O’Bagy (COL ’09) reminds us, though, that Georgetown graduates are very much human. And so, it is with considerable glee that Vox has seen fit to revive this long-dormant series in which those who have dishonored the GU family are unceremoniously shamed.

O’Bagy, a native of Utah, graduated with a B.A. in Arabic Language and Arab Studies and went on to live in Cairo between 2009 and 2013, when the anti-Hosni Mubarak revolution broke out. She then returned to D.C. to work at the Institute for the Study Of War (ISW) and study on the Hilltop in pursuit of a graduate degree.

Over the summer, O’Bagy quickly became a go-to analyst and commentator on events in Syria. O’Bagy met with politicians and had an op-ed about the Syrian conflict published in The Wall Street Journal. O’Bagy’s promising career came to a screeching halt, however, when it became clear that she lied about getting a PhD from Georgetown and was fired from ISW.

The truth came crashing down when O’Bagy’s op-ed garnered intense media scrutiny after it was cited by the likes of Senator John McCain and Secretary of State John Kerry during congressional hearings on Syria. Critics leapt on O’Bagy’s failure to disclose her affiliation with the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a lobby group, in her op-ed, claiming she mislead readers into thinking she was impartial.

As critics dug deeper, it came to light that O’Bagy had systematically misrepresented her educational credentials in the months leading up to her op-ed in the Journal. Most notably, she had falsely told her employers in the ISW and SETF that she had successfully defended her doctoral thesis at Georgetown and was awaiting the bestowal of her PhD.

The response to O’Bagy’s fraud was thunderous. She was fired from the ISW but was allowed to resign from the SETF. Naturally, she was lambasted by politicians and pundits alike.

“I should have immediately told them when I didn’t get into the PhD program,” O’Bagy said, according to Time.  “I was really ashamed, really embarrassed. I’d always been top of my class, in high school, at Georgetown [undergraduate]. I’d never failed before.”

And here she is featured in You’ve Been a Bad, Bad Hoya. Being top of your class at Georgetown doesn’t grant immunity from Vox.

At time when so much is at stake in Syria, O’Bagy’s conduct strikes Vox as not just inappropriate but also wildly reckless. If only she had paid attention to her Scholarly Research and Academic Integrity Tutorial as an undergraduate.

4 Comments on “You’ve Been a Bad, Bad Hoya: Don’t lie about being a Georgetown PhD

  1. With behavior like this it’s hard to believe she isn’t faculty in the Arabic department here. It’s a shady place.

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