Diploma-mill PhD leads Alabama college

Alabama community colleges are employing administrators — including a college president and two academic deans — with diploma-mill degrees, a watchdog group has found.

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  1. Does anyone engage in proper vetting (investigate to discover) of academic credentials these days? A simple online check via Google would have shown that the degrees issued are from well-known diploma mills. Also, what about all the legitimate candidates who didn’t get the job because of what these three persons (and their respective institutions) were able to do.

    I’m starting to thing that higher education is nothing but a complete scam perpetrated on students and the taxpayers who fund them, if they cannot even properly find out information that is ‘well-known’ through a few minutes of searches.

  2. georgelarson says:

    If a person without a legitimate degree can do the job, why do we insist on making it a requirement? We can pay a lower salary for the skills that are required and as a result charge less tuition and lower taxes.

  3. The issue is not that, if the requirements for the job(s) were a degree from a legitimate university, not a diploma mill (which the investigation before interviews should have caught), the three persons would have been excluded before ever being interviewed.

    The president of any college or university should have at a minimum a masters with several years of relevant work experience, or a doctorate, and all of this should be investigated and verified before any telephone or in-person interview happens.

    The only thing that has happened due to the state not following it’s own laws is that a great many persons (who had legitimate degrees) got shut out of the interview process by persons who cheated/gamed the system.

    If more states had laws on the books which made it a gross misdemeanor or felony to use fraudulent degrees to obtain employment or promotions (I believe only 6 or 7 states in the US have these laws on the books), it might put a stop to a lot of this.

    Additionally, the persons in question can be fired from their jobs, since I’m sure that any employment offer was made under the pretense of having supplied truthful information during the application and/or interview process (i.e. – lying on a job application is usually a termination offense if discovered).

  4. George Larson says:

    I am against the cheating and dishonesty, but what does a masters or doctorate have to do with the job? If they were not incompetent at work it appears that the degree was not a legitimate requirement or qualification. They were fired for dishonesty not incompetence.

  5. Which raises another question, if they’re dishonest about their academic credentials, what else would they hide from the interviewers. IMO, even if you’ve done something wrong in your past, you need to be up front about it, otherwise, if it’s found after after the fact, the end result will follow you pretty much forever. A blatant case of this can be found in Wikipedia, just put in the name Laura Callahan and take a look, this is a person who falsified 3 degrees in IT via a diploma mill in Wyoming, and was on track for a deputy director’s position at DHS when the fraud was detected (the position required a Top Secret clearance).

    If a person has to lie about their academic background, it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ll lie about other things while on the job.

  6. It happens not just at no-name schools in Alabama… the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at MIT was fired a few years ago because she lied about her credentials… she claimed to have a PhD from RPI, but apparently didn’t even have a BA/BS.

  7. George Larson says:

    “Callahan was promoted twice by the agency, and in March 2003, she was named to the position of Deputy CIO of the Department of Homeland Security”

    The degree requirements must have provided critical skills and knowlege.

  8. Jab, exactly my point, with the advent of the internet and doing a little online sleuthing, problems like this can be avoided. If someone claims to have a degree from ‘whatever’ as part of the requirements (or conditions) of being able to apply for the job, it shouldn’t take a large amount of effort to plug the universities name into a search engine and review the results.

    While I’m not saying that long term experience couldn’t make up for the lack of a degree (which is usually more important than the degree after years), it’s the claiming of the degree on a resume which one hasn’t earned (via a diploma mill) which unfairly gives them an advantage over other candidates who worked hard for their degrees.

    Most ads usually state ‘degree required or relevant work experience’, but this usually isn’t the case in academia, and as I said in a previous post, the fine print is usually a gotcha on grounds for loss of employment.

    Here is an article from 2003 with regards to diploma mills: