Given the access to right references and enough self-confidence, the sky is the limit in the academic field.
Marvin Hewitt was gifted with both, for he confidently wrote the references himself.
Though he was unable to complete his studies due to abruptly leaving school at 17, he posed as a Doctor of philosophy in physics and even lectured at several American universities for no less than eight years!
Hewitt had an aptitude for mathematics. However, his parents couldn’t afford to send him to a university for further studies. On leaving school, he worked in factories and goods yards for six long years, before one day, he saw an advertisement in a local newspaper.
The advertisement was for hiring a new school teacher. Hewitt decided that he would apply for the job.
He described himself as a university graduate and taught for roughly a term, but his clever mind had other ambitious plans.
In 1945, he chose a name from a university staff list and used it to become an aerodynamicist at an aircraft factory. But the name he chose was so well known that getting exposed for his cunning ploy became a matter of when, not if.
Hewitt moved on to Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, where he taught physics using the alias ‘Julius Ashkin’, of Columbia University.
He always used names and identities of real-life people in his impostures. He later claimed that he had a “compulsion to teach”.
The following year, he applied and was accepted into a State Teachers’ College in Minnesota, where he impressed the college president with his impeccable-but imaginiative-references. When he began to gain academic fame, the real Julius Ashkin, a physics professor, wrote to him requesting him to stop his masquerade.
Hewitt wasn’t the guy who would back down easily. He proceeded to adopt the identity of ‘Georg Hewitt’, former chief reasearcher of Radio Corporation of America.
When he was caught, he went on to impersonate philosophy professor ‘Clifford Berry,’ PhD.
At 1954 Hewitt was on his fifth teaching job as ‘Dr. Kenneth Yates’, an associate professor of physics at the University of New Hampshire. Unfortunately for Hewitt, two other colleges had discovered that his credentials were false when they noticed that the real Kenneth Yates was working for an oil company during the time of Hewitt’s tenure. When the details were leaked out, the authorities decided to let him leave quietly, without attracting the media.
But it did. Because several newspapers picked up the story, and the publicity was so great that Hewitt had no other alternatives but to seek work outside the universities.
The president of the university, Dr. Robert F Chandler, had described Hewitt as a good physicist, with a special gift of being able to teach effectively. Officially he was not fired for incompetence but because he had presented false information about his qualifications. He received support from previous and current colleagues who were all praises for him.
Even the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and the British Admirality approached him
But Hewitt decided that it was in his best interest to withdraw from public glare, and has not been heard of since.