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Fake Credentials and Diploma Mills

Recently, a group of student reporters at Pittsburg High School in Kansas uncovered something unexpected about their new principle, Amy Robertson. While gathering information for an article they intended to write to welcome Ms. Robertson to the school, the students found reason to question her credentials; and the article they eventually wrote resulted in Ms. Robertson’s resignation.

What the students found was that Corllins University, where Ms. Robertson claimed to have received both her Master’s and PhD, did not have a functional website and was not an accredited school recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation or the US Department of Education. Further research uncovered several articles that suspect the school of being a diploma mill. The students also found reason for suspicion when Ms. Robertson gave conflicting answers regarding her education history during an interview and was unable to provide transcripts to verify her Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree from Tulsa University; a degree Tulsa University says it has never offered.

Each year, universities in the United States award an average of 45,000 legitimate doctorates, and another estimated 50,000 fake PhDs are purchased from diploma mills and other unaccredited schools. This phenomenon isn’t new, every year people use fake credentials to obtain positions like educators, doctors, lawyers and others we count on to be properly trained.  Back in 2004, the senior assistant secretary of defense, head of human resources for 2 million people, was found to have a fake master’s degree, and it’s currently estimated that 100,000 federal employees have credentials from a diploma mill. Part of the problem is that people simply accept stated credentials. But checking into someone’s credentials isn’t hard, as the student reporters of Pittsburg High School demonstrated, you just have to do the work.

The easiest way to identify a diploma mill is to find out if they are accredited. Other red flags to look for include:

  1. Diploma mills offer degrees for a set fee while legitimate universities charge by the credit.
  2. Diploma mills offer degrees based on work and life experiences and often promise you can get your degree in just a few days or weeks.
  3. Diploma mills often don’t list admission criteria.
  4. Diploma mills tend to have names that are similar to well-known reputable schools.
  5. Diploma mill websites usually don’t provide details about the content of their graduate programs, list very little information about the faculty, and often have no contact information listed other than an email address.
  6. Diploma mills often have complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau.
  7. Diploma mills yield sketchy internet search results.

Confirming an individual’s education history is an important step towards making the most well-informed hiring decision for your company.  For additional information regarding university accreditation in the United States, visit www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL COACH MAY LOSE JOB DUE TO LIES ON HIS RESUME

“When Manhattan toppled Iona in the MAAC title game and led defending national champ Louisville into the final minutes of its opening-round NCAA tournament game, Steve Masiello figured to be one of the most coveted coaches on the market this spring.

Less than a week later, it’s not even certain that Manhattan will take him back.

Masiello was all set to replace Stan Heath as the new coach at South Florida when the school’s background check revealed that he had not actually graduated from Kentucky in 2000 as his resume claimed, ESPN.com reported Wednesday morning. Masiello’s bio at Manhattan and from when he was an assistant at Louisvilleboth refer to him as having graduated from Kentucky in 2000 with a communications degree.

The question now becomes whether Manhattan policy demands that its head coaches must have bachelor’s degrees in order to be eligible to work at the school. This is common practice among Division I institutions who want their head coaches to be able to set an example for their players about the importance of graduating.

A Manhattan spokesman did not immediately return an email from Yahoo Sports seeking clarification on if the school requires its coaches to have a degree. The email also asked if the initial resume Masiello had submitted falsely indicated he had graduated from Kentucky and if the school had made any decision regarding whether he would be welcomed back.

Masiello is not the first coach to lose a high-profile job for falsifying details on his resume.

In 2001, Notre Dame hired Georgia Tech football coach George O’Leary only to fire him a few days later when it became clear that he had lied about playing football for the University of New Hampshire and earning a graduate degree from Stony Brook. In 2004, Louisiana-Lafayette had to fire Glynn Cyprien weeks after he accepted the school’s men’s basketball head coaching job because he did not graduate from Texas-San Antonio as he claimed on his resume and his other degrees came from unaccredited diploma mills.

Masiello, a former player and coach under Rick Pitino, was considered one of the rising stars of the coaching industry prior to this incident. In three seasons at Manhattan, he led the Jaspers to a 60-39 record, two postseason appearances and the school’s first NCAA bid since 2004.”

 

Originally posted by The Dagger and can be found at: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaab-the-dagger/will-manhattan-take-steve-masiello-back-after-lies-on-his-resume-costs-him-usf-job-135444925.html

 

SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO…?

Yahoo confirmed Friday that its newish chief executive officer Scott Thompson does not in fact have the computer science degree that he claimed he has and the Yahoo board has since launched an investigation into how the discrepancy came about.

Thompson’s biography and Yahoo filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission both report that Thompson has degrees in accounting AND computer science. But Dan Loeb, whose company ThirdPoint owns 5.8 percent of Yahoo shares called the computer science degree into question in a scathing letter to the company’s board last Thursday.

“A rudimentary Google search reveals a Stonehill College alumni announcement stating that Mr. Thompson’s degree is in accounting only. That announcement is consistent with other documents (including SEC filings) that reflect Mr. Thompson received a degree in accounting, but not computer science,” Loeb wrote in the letter.

After first calling the discrepancy an “inadvertent error” and backing Mr. Thompson as a “highly qualified executive with a successful track record” leading large technology businesses,  the Yahoo! board has started an investigation. “Upon completion of its review,” the company said in a statement, the board “will make an appropriate disclosure to shareholders.”

Loeb has called for the firing of Thompson for unethical conduct, and has threatened to file a lawsuit if the board doesn’t take “swift and decisive action” by noon on Monday.

According to a report from Business Insider, Thompson’s alleged fake degree has shown up on biographies of the executive as far back as 2008, though it never appeared on SEC filings for PayPal. Yahoo has since removed references to Thompson’s computer science degree from his official Yahoo biographies.

“If Mr. Thompson embellished his academic credentials we think that it 1) undermines his credibility as a technology expert and 2) reflects poorly on the character of the CEO who has been tasked with leading Yahoo! at this critical juncture,” Loeb wrote. “In the event that there is no good explanation, we expect the Board to take immediate action.”

This is not the first time a chief executive’s qualifications have been questioned. Lotus chief executive Jeff Papows resigned in 2000 in part because of a claimed PhD from Pepperdine University which was bogus. Marilee Jones admitted that she had fabricated her own educational credentials, and resigned after nearly three decades at M.I.T.  It was revealed that Ms. Jones did not have even an undergraduate degree. And RadioShack chief executive David J. Edmondson also resigned in 2006 after questions were raised about the accuracy of his résumé.

As of today at noon, no word from Yahoo…

 

UPDATE: Scott Thompson resigned…