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Man Sues Columbia Over MBA He Says He Earned But Never Received In The 1970s

Antonis H. Diamataris. (Photo by TNH/Kostas Bej)

Among the countless contrasts in attending business school now versus 45 years ago — besides cost, curriculum, class size and, well, everything else — back then it was apparently possible to complete all the requirements of an MBA after having been wrongly expelled, then never receive notice that you didn’t actually earn the degree.

That’s the takeaway from the strange case of Antonis Diamataris, who has sued Columbia Business School over the MBA he thought he received in 1977. According to a report in the New York Post, Diamataris, publisher of a New York-based Greek-American newspaper, attended Columbia from 1975 to 1977 and spent the ensuing decades believing he had fulfilled all the requirements to earn an MBA from the Ivy League school.

However, because of a clerical mishap, Diamataris never officially received his degree — and he didn’t find out until 2019, when he was named Deputy Minister for Expatriate Greeks by the government of newly elected Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. After Greek media reported that Diamataris hadn’t earned the MBA he claimed on his curriculum vitae, he was forced to resign.

NEVER INFORMED HE HAD BEEN EXPELLED

The issue, Diamataris says in his lawsuit, stems from his failure to submit an application for the undergraduate degree he received in 1974 from Queens College. Technically, he never received that degree — and when Columbia found out midway through his MBA studies, it expelled him.

But Diamataris says he was never informed that he had been kicked out of the program, leading him to continue to pay fees and attend classes. He says he fulfilled all the requirements of the program and left in 1977 believing he was a Columbia MBA. Focused on his work for Greek-American newspaper The National Herald, he did not attend graduation ceremonies; two years later, he became the paper’s publisher.

In July 2019, Diamataris was tapped by the Greek government to serve as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs with Responsibility for Greeks Living Abroad. But controversy ensued when Greek media published reports saying he had falsified his CV, and he was forced to step down.

NO RESPONSE FROM SCHOOL

Alerted to the problem, Diamataris says he resolved the issue of his undergraduate degree with Queens College last November. But Columbia, he says, has been intransigent — worse, the school has ignored his efforts at communication. His most recent effort to contact the school was in late April; it went unanswered.

“Columbia has breached that contract by refusing to confer the MBA degree even as it admits that Mr. Diamataris satisfied all of Columbia’s academic requirements for the degree,” according to Diamataris’s lawsuit, which was filed July 14. Moreover, the undergraduate degree error “has nothing whatsoever to do with Mr. Diamataris’ academic performance at Columbia Business School and his satisfaction of its academic requirement.” Diamataris is asking a judge to force Columbia to grant the degree.

Neither Columbia Business School nor Diamataris responded to email requests for comment by Poets&Quants.

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