Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Check yourself before you wreck yourself...

Sharon Daniels, the head of Boston University's Opera Institute, is one of the most prominent voice instructors and stage directors in Boston. In addition to running one of the most prestigious opera programs in the country, her stagings of operas such as The Marriage of Figaro have received great reviews.

Well, as it has been said, it's lonely at the top and once you're up there, people start taking notice - of everything.

Being reviewed by the faculty as part of contract renewal protocol, it appears that Ms. Daniels' biography has been embellished a tad bit. It wasn't just that it was her bio, but it was her online bio available for the world to see on the Boston University's website.

Ms Daniels' bio stated that she performed in starring roles with several "A" houses in Europe and San Francisco however, a Boston Globe review found that four institutions have either no record of her or cast her in minor parts. In one case, in which she is listed as principal soprano, she was actually the fifth of six flower maidens in a 1974 production of Wagner’s Parsifal.

Both Boston University officials and Daniels herself conceded yesterday that they were made aware of the discrepancies in her official biography as far back as January, but the university was not quick to correct them. After the Boston Globe raised questions on Wednesday, the biography was immediately changed. But, according to the Globe, it was not completely corrected.

Tracy Jan of the Boston Globe writes in part:
Confronted with the embellishments, Daniels explained in an interview yesterday that a BU staff member had condensed her curriculum vitae for the online biography and that she and BU officials did not become aware of any errors until a colleague on a faculty review committee raised concerns about the biography when her contract was up for renewal last school year. She said she was led to believe that the director of BU’s School of Music would correct it.

“When my bio was condensed from my vitae, there were just some things that got smushed together and became misleading, Daniels said. “I honestly don’t go online and read my bio all the time. I did not ever intentionally puff up my work."

Administrative staff typically extract professors’ online bios from their CVs and ask the individuals to validate what is ultimately posted on the website, Meissner said. Faculty are supposed to review and update their bios every year, but Daniels’s had not been changed for about four years, he said.

“There is some negligence here,’’ Meissner said. “Some faculty are rather sloppy about reviewing their bios online. It’s really the university bragging about who their faculty are.’’

Daniels, a former elementary school teacher, runs a voice studio where she has produced award winning singers; she counts BU’s provost, David Campbell, among her pupils.
Ladies and Gents... check those resumes, bios and CVs. You never know who is going to fact check those little gems.

For more on Bio-gate including more specifics on further embellishments, check out the Boston Globe website.

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