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Thread: What I Thought

  1. #1
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    What I Thought

    I took a lot of grief--much of it deserved, BTW--regarding MIGS. It galls me when some people, working a different agenda, choose to misinterpret what I did or did not do, or how objective I was regarding MIGS. I've maintained that while I was an advocate for the idea, I was also a critic of its implementation. Well, just for the record, here's what I wrote a colleage right after I dropped any association with MIGS (this was written in June 2001):

    I spoke with The Florida State Board of Independent Colleges and Universities on 6/11/01 regarding MIGS' legal status in that state. Here is a recap of that conversation, along with my observations and opinions.

    The Florida State Board of Independent Colleges and Universities received application from Serna on 5/29/01, too late to be considered by the board's 6/9/01 meeting. They wrote Enrique Serna back, citing these problems:

    1. School uses "accredited" (and worse, "fully accredited") on their website.
    a. No evidence that MIGS or CEU has gone through such process as it is understood in the U.S.
    b. Inappropriate term considering CEU is a Mexican school.
    c. Other information on the site makes it clear that the CEU is fully approved but not "accredited" (a la GAAP).

    2. MIGS must remove their Florida contact information until after they're given permission to operate in Florida.

    3. MIGS must submit evidence that the academic process used is sufficient for schools licensed in Florida. This is so even though they won't actually go through licensure itself. Schools from other jurisdictions wishing to operate administrative offices in Florida have to demonstrate that they operate at a level and with processes that would allow them to be licensed in Florida if they were based in that state.

    Opinions/Observations/Judgments:

    1. MIGS does not have the legal right to operate its office in Fort Lauderdale. They do not have the right to take in students and monies, nor conduct academic operations until the state gives them permission to do so.

    2. MIGS has been incredibly slow on the uptake regarding this matter. They're application didn't go in until at least 15 months after they developed a public presence and began promoting themselves. (And not until this lapse was pointed out to them.) Probably due to simple incompetence, rather than some form of deception.

    3. Given all the questions regarding the proper approval of the CEU to award these degrees (either via MIGS or not), the school has a responsibility to demonstrate this approval. Officials from the CEU and MIGS have said so, but where is the Secretary of Education in all this? He appears as an honorary member of the MIGS Board, but so what?

    4. Given the remarkably different degree-granting process in Mexico as compared to the U.S., MIGS has been less than clear about that process. The only comments about it are buried in the Vice-Rector's letter. Exactly what credentials will be issued upon graduation. What will they say? From whom will they come?

    5. MIGS has not even attempted to address utility and equivalency issues. For example, will even a properly-issued CEU doctorate be evaluated as comparable to one issued by an accredited school in the U.S.?

    6. Finally, consider all these controversies:

    a. The Danzigs' other marketing activities.

    b. Not properly licensed in Florida.

    c. The Levicoff lawsuit.

    d. The opaqueness of the degree-granting authority (and its meaning in terms of equivalency).

    e. The non-involvement of the CEU in MIGS. (I couldn't even get one of their professors assigned to my committee, even though he is also listed on the MIGS Faculty!) MIGS operates as if the CEU didn't even exist, except on paper.

    f. Academic questions (primarily the Assessment of Prior Learning process and its use at the master's--and even doctoral--level.

    g. The over-hype that made it sound like MIGS was awarding fully accredited degrees instead of the CEU awarding degrees it is approved to award--not a subtle difference--and the subsequent backtracking to a tenable position.

    h. The lack of activity in its operations .

    i. The lack of staff. (Likely zero full-time employees, and only three at all active in its administration.)

    For a very long time I stuck up for this operation because of what it said it was doing. But now it simply says nothing, and does even less. I'm dropping the matter right now.

  2. #2
    SteveLevicoff Guest

    Talk About Beating a Dead Horse...

    Gee, and I thought MIGS was a dead issue . . .

    I see no reason for Rich to do any mea culpa at this point. Nonetheless, what he has posted here is not a mea culpa, but an apologia of his own prior reprehensible conduct during the MIGS affair. To wit:

    - He identified himself on numerous occasions as MIGS' "Research Assistant," not bothering on most occasions to note that this was an unpaid role.

    - He identified himself as a "Ph.D. Candidate" at MIGS - not only before reaching the usual candidacy stage for a doctoral program but before he was even admitted to MIGS.

    - For that matter, he identified himself as a "Ph.D. Candidate" at Union immediately upon returning to Union's fold.

    - And most of all, he hyped MIGS to the fullest. Forget matchbook covers, or even the imbedded ads on Sheila's numerous hokey web sites. Rich was the best sales rep that MIGS could ever have asked for.

    His actions, on the whole, had no more apparent motivation than to make credible the degree that he was purportedly pursuing through MIGS.

    So forgive me if I wonder why he is bringing up this rather overworked issue now. Not that I mind; hell, I consider the death of MIGS one of my greatest victories, and I didn't even have to work for it actively. (It was their unsuccessful lawsuit against me that directly resulted in the wonderful actions of the Great State of Texas - and Florida, for that matter. As Gershwin wrote, "Who could ask for anythng more?")

    So let it slide, Rich. You may, one day, have a credible reputation as well as a credible doctorate. But even the most dedicated activists have to know when to give it a rest.

  3. #3
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    Levicoff: "For that matter, he identified himself as a "Ph.D. Candidate" at Union immediately upon returning to Union's fold."

    That's right. It was (and is) correct. My status as a degree candidate never changed. As for the rest of Steve's post....

    Hyped MIGS? Hardly. Talked about the model a lot, sure. Talked about the validity of degrees that might be issued, of course. But Levicoff's reaction to this post is consistent with his others, and wrong as usual. I didn't hype them then, and I'm not hyping them now.

    Welcome to Steve's World.

  4. #4
    SteveLevicoff Guest
    Originally posted by Rich Douglas
    Hyped MIGS? Hardly. Talked about the model a lot, sure. Talked about the validity of degrees that might be issued, of course. But Levicoff's reaction to this post is consistent with his others, and wrong as usual. I didn't hype them then, and I'm not hyping them now.
    I have neither the time nor interest to get into a pissing contest with Rich, who obviously still hasn't learned to spell d-e-n-i-a-l.

    I invite anyone who is interested to return to the thrilling days of yesteryear by going to http://groups.google.com (the successor to the old DejaNews archive) and going a search on the term: "rcdouglas@erols.com MIGS" (without the quotation marks). If you want to broaden the search, do it on "rich douglas MIGS" (also without the quotes), which will produce hundreds of posts on this issue.

    Once again, campers, res ipsa loquitur - the thing speaks for itself.

    I will agree with Rich on one thing - He's not hyping them now. It took him a long time to realize that he got burned, but he's still beating a dead horse by bring up MIGS at all at this juncture.

  5. #5
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    Originally posted by SteveLevicoff
    I have neither the time nor interest to get into a pissing contest with Rich....
    What other reason for the Levicoff-standard response? He creates what he hasn't time for? How typical is that?

    For anyone else interested in what was happening at MIGS, I echo Steve's encouragement to read what I and others posted during that period and draw one's own conclusions.

    As for what I posted, I just thought I'd share some of the "inside" information about the battles I fought with Danzig, Forman, Feinberg, and Arias.

    It's not "denial." It's "disagreeing" with Steve. But we know that's not allowed regarding MIGS or Union. Ironically, those are the only two things that Steve and I have in common. But it's well known that only Levicoff can comment about these things. What was I thinking?

    I gotta say, though, I was impressed with how Steve stood up to them in their ham-handed lawsuit.
    Last edited by Rich Douglas; 12-30-2002 at 04:46 AM.

  6. #6
    BillDayson is offline Registered User
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    Originally posted by SteveLevicoff
    I have neither the time nor interest to get into a pissing contest...
    Right. I believe that.

  7. #7
    SteveLevicoff Guest
    Originally posted by BillDayson
    Right. I believe that.
    Oh, yeah? :D

    Look, guys, I enjoyed the MIGS hoopla as much as anyone. But even I don't prolong my past victories. I'm far too modest for that. [I know . . . see Bill's comment above.]

    As for Rich's bug, I don't believe I commented on MIGS or Union at all. I commented on Rich. Get over it, Rich.

    Ah, what the hell . . .

    BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!

    There. Now I feel better. I could even dance . . . the macarena. ;)

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  9. #8
    SteveLevicoff Guest

    Halls of Fame, Halls of Shame . . .

    Originally posted by Rich Douglas
    I took a lot of grief--much of it deserved, BTW--regarding MIGS. It galls me when some people, working a different agenda, choose to misinterpret what I did or did not do, or how objective I was regarding MIGS . . .
    You know, rereading this thread, I'm reminded of a current news story . . .

    As many long-time AED'ers may remember, there was a prominent case of someone else who held degree mill credentials - someone who is still active here at degreeinfo.com: Barry Foster.

    Several years ago, Barry did his research and essentially said, "I fucked up." (Of course, Barry, whose language is much cleaner than mine, never would have put it that way. But you get the picture . . .) He then proceeded to start from scratch, earning legimitaley accredited degrees. And today, he holds his doctorate from the highly respected Fielding Institute. He is, perhaps, the ultimate success story of someone who chose the wrong path, openly corrected himself, and went on to clean up his act totally.

    Now, we have Rich. Who, even at this juncture, still tries to justify his actions during the MIGS situation. Who even now justifies his usurption of titles when he says, "My status as a degree candidate [at Union] never changed." Who refuses to to admit that it did change - he dropped out (for whatever sobstory reason he has used in the past) and ended up at MIGS, of all places.

    The one thing Rich has never done is stepped up to the plate and said, "I fucked up." If he had, he would have had a lot more credibility in my book. Instead, even now, he tries to tap dance his way into absolution.

    Y'all know where I'm going with this? The conclusion is simple: Rich is the Pete Rose of distance education. And until he stops his continuing denial and does some serious repenting, he will never be elected to the Distance Education Hall of Fame.

    So let Rich whine, just as Pete is whining. He started this latest MIGS thread. He still can't stand the heat, but he still wants to play around in the kitchen. On his terms.

    It "galls" Rich? Nah . . . I think the guy just got struck out with a hit of masochism.

    Damn, I love symbolism . . . :D

  10. #9
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    I talk about MIGS. Steve talks about me. Typical, and likely in violation of the TOS. Equating disagreement with whining is typical of Steve as well, and it is petty.

  11. #10
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    Perhaps Steve can provide the words he wants me to say, then I can say them, then we'll be done. But before that....

    Am I sorry I got involved with MIGS? Yes. Did I misjudge the situation? Yes. Did I let my own personal interests interfere with my judgment of MIGS? Yes.

  12. #11
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    Steve: "Who refuses to to admit that it did change - he dropped out (for whatever sobstory reason he has used in the past)...."

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. You don't know what you're talking about, but you should. My Matriculation date stayed the same, my Certification date stayed the same, my Learning Agreement stayed intact. It was one long Interim as it turned out. So when I said I was a candidate for the degree, I was entirely accurate. That never changed.

    (And it is so stupid to argue about, but pettiness is the rule in these interactions.)

    Now, will Steve apologize and say he's sorry? Has he ever?

  13. #12
    BillDayson is offline Registered User
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    Re: Halls of Fame, Halls of Shame . . .

    Originally posted by SteveLevicoff
    The one thing Rich has never done is stepped up to the plate and said, "I fucked up."
    I don't think that it's necessary for Rich to grovel for anyone's amusement.

    Nor was he the only influential Degreeinfo participant who had positive things to say about MIGS in its heyday. You know precisely what I mean.

    If he had, he would have had a lot more credibility in my book. Instead, even now, he tries to tap dance his way into absolution.
    Absolution is a matter between Rich and his god, if any.

    He made a mistake. We all have. So what?

    We could make this thing useful and valuable, if we redirected the thread to detailing the nature of the mistakes that were made here and to how they could be avoided in the future.

    I still say that the concept of GAAP needs a lot of work when it is extended beyond a group of "top-tier" higher education systems like the UK's to countries in which standards are weak or easily subverted.

    I think that collaborative arrangements, particularly "validation"-type things where one university franchises its degree-granting authority to another school is wide open to abuse.

    I think that in some cases here at Degreeinfo, sixties-style idealism about starting one's own little personal "alternative" university is getting confused with the very different idea of distance education .

    Y'all know where I'm going with this? The conclusion is simple: Rich is the Pete Rose of distance education. And until he stops his continuing denial and does some serious repenting, he will never be elected to the Distance Education Hall of Fame.
    I don't think that humiliation is called for here, whether we call it "repenting" or whatever.

    If we are going to be using religious metaphors, what we need is *nonattachment*, where we can separate our personal rivalries, our embarassment or our self-congratulatory masturbation, our own emotional investments in other words, from the more abstract issues that revolve around this and many other problem cases.

    It's these more general and dispassionate principles that some other Degreeinfo reader out there will have to apply the next time that one of these weird little DL problem cases arises. We all are going to have to learn to be more skeptical and more discerning in the future.

    If we can see our way to actually learning something from this, it might have all been worth while and we might have taken another step towards *wisdom*.
    Last edited by BillDayson; 12-31-2002 at 09:31 AM.

  14. #13
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    Bill's points about GAAP are strong. For example, the weakness in using the International Handbook of Universities has been demonstrated with MIGS and Berne. Simply being approved by one's home country shouldn't be enough, especially when that country doesn't have a strong university system. Who's to say? Well, other colleges and universities seem to make these decisions. And as Bear found, when admissions officials desire to check out a foreign school, the source they find LEAST useful is the IHU. And the source they found MOST useful is a thorough evaluation from a credential evaluation agency. (Presumably, a reputable one.)

    While Bear's survey was of admissions--not hiring--officials, one might infer a similar dynamic in the hiring process at colleges and universities, where a Berne degree might not get the job done once it's been checked out.

    (My recently completed dissertation, focused on accreditation and its affect on degree acceptability in the employment sector, did not delve into the intricacies of the various foreign GAAP sources, so I cannot infer about the utility of degrees from "borderline GAAP" schools with employers in general. But I bet, based upon the questions about state approval and state licensing I did ask, that it's pretty good for the graduates of Berne, RKU, and the like. But more on that in the Spring, after I graduate.)

  15. #14
    SteveLevicoff Guest
    My god, Rich, three posts about me within 32 minutes? Okay, sport - I absolve you. :D

    After all, in a few short months, you will hopefully be a Union graduate, just like me.

    Although, as we know, today's Union grads are not of the same caliber as . . . well, never mind. (Which I"m sure you knew already, Rich, assuming you have read the Ohio OBR report.)

    Anyway, you need to stop taking me so seriously, Pete. Um, Rich. After all, you will presumably be in this field after you graduate, while I choose to remain, um, distant from distance education (just compare our post counts).

    No, my boy, I trust that you will continue to grow in your professional stature, while I will continue to be, um, an elder statesman.*

    Sheesh, no wonder I got out of this biz in favor of driving trucks.

    Oh, and stop your whining. Bitching about TOS is a cop-out. You brought up the MIGS issue, even though it supposedly died out many moons ago. When you did that, you opened yourself up to critique, especially considering your roles with MIGS. If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

    And here I thought we had turned the kitchen lights out on MIGS. I, for one, would be delighted to see that happen again - there are lots of other mills that are still operating - if you want to talk mills, focus on them.
    _______________________

    * Needless to say, I have written much of this post with tongue firmly embedded in cheek.

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  17. #15
    Rich Douglas is offline Registered User
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    Originally posted by SteveLevicoff
    Although, as we know, today's Union grads are not of the same caliber as . . . well, never mind. (Which I"m sure you knew already, Rich, assuming you have read the Ohio OBR report.)

    I haven't read it, but I know what you're driving at, and what changes Union is contemplating in response to it. I suspect, however, the weaknesses--which seem to stem directly from the program's design --go back to the 1970's.

    Too much reliance--and trust--is placed on the adjuncts to provide subject-matter expertise and guidance. While this works well on some committees, on others with nearly inactive or absent adjuncts, the Core is stuck with carrying the supervision load, often in an are in which he/she isn't an expert.

    Also, Union learners are not required to take a research methods course (or equivalent learning experience), but are expected to show such expertise in their dissertations or PDE's. But that doesn't always happen. (This despite the fact that Union's now-required transcript clearly calls for granting credit for research methodology studies, even if none were specifically undertaken during the program; the learning areas and--if used--credits are inferred from the production of the PDE/dissertation. I'm told the Board of Regents were disappointed in the research quality of some PDE's/dissertations.)

    Finally, Union has made a point to reach out to certain groups, actively recruiting, if you will. This might have meant that some were admitted who would not ordinarily have been. Just something repeated by three different faculty members I've heard speak.

    Possible changes: More reliance on Core Faculty's areas of expertise and a de-emphasis on Adjuncts. Possibly add a third Core Faculty member to committees. Require a research methods block in each degree program. And perhaps scrutinize non-dissertation PDE's a bit more. But that's just what I'm told.

    Do you know where I can get a copy of the OBR's report?

  18. #16
    BillDayson is offline Registered User
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    Originally posted by Rich Douglas
    Bill's points about GAAP are strong. For example, the weakness in using the International Handbook of Universities has been demonstrated with MIGS and Berne. Simply being approved by one's home country shouldn't be enough, especially when that country doesn't have a strong university system. Who's to say?
    Exactly. Who's to say?

    The bottom line problem seems to be that there is no internationally recognized standard of higher education quality assurance. Even if there was such a standard, we would couldn't always be confident that it was being enforced.

    I've never criticised John Bear for using "GAAP". It's a valuable and useful rule of thumb. But that's all it is, a rule of thumb.

    My arguments have been with those that have tried to treat GAAP as if it were a well defined form of international accreditation. If a school meets X,Y and Z criteria, then "it's GAAP", which is synonymous with "it's accredited".

    Somehow the whole point of accreditation, the assurance of educational quality, drops out of the picture at the exact moment that everyone pretends to applaud it. That's because nowhere in the GAAP criteria is there any requirement that a credible educational body do any kind of evaluation of the school in question.

    Well, other colleges and universities seem to make these decisions. And as Bear found, when admissions officials desire to check out a foreign school, the source they find LEAST useful is the IHU. And the source they found MOST useful is a thorough evaluation from a credential evaluation agency. (Presumably, a reputable one.)
    I remain troubled. The problem is that a credential evaluator is performing an entirely different task than that performed by an accreditor.

    Credential evaluators don't evaluate foreign universities. Certainly they don't perform site visits and the like. What they do is *assume* the legitimacy of the foreign school if it is listed in the standard references (apparently some credential evaluators do use the IHU).

    Their job is to examine a foreign syllabus and translate it into domestic terms, deciding what American classes the foreign "modules" or "years" convert into and how much credit it's all worth. Credential evaluators pore over catalog entries, but they do little to ensure that the entries correspond to anything tangible.

    We've already seen precisely this problem here on Degreeinfo in the case of Berne.

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