José Antonio Abreu, revered founder of Venezuela’s El Sistema, has a PhD in petroleum economics from the University of Pennsylvania.
That’s what it says in Sistema’s official biography, Venezuela en el cielo de los escenarios (2010), published in English in 2011 as Venezuela, The Miracle of Music. Its author, Chefi Borzacchini, dedicated the book to Abreu and thanked him for his support in creating it. Abreu’s academic credentials are also mentioned on the Sistema website, and on in his Wikipedia entry, stating 1961 as the year he received his PhD.
Two researchers have checked independently with the University of Pennsylvania archives. On the UPenn master alumni roster, which lists all students who attended between 1753 and 1977, Abreu’s name is nowhere to be found.
The PhD has vanished overnight from the Sistema website (we have a screenshot of the previous version).
Looks like the doctorate joins a lengthening roster of Sistema myths.
Abreu (r) with protégé Dudamel and Venezuela president Maduro