Chronicle: AAUP Defends a Prof.'s Web Site About Unaccredited Distance Programs

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Michael Wilson, Nov 19, 2003.

  1. Michael Wilson

    Michael Wilson New Member

    "The American Association of University Professors has come to the defense of a physics professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who was pressured by administrators to take down his Web site on unaccredited distance-learning institutions....

    "The professor, George Gollin, said administrators ordered him to remove his material from the university's server after Illinois was threatened with lawsuits from proprietors of some of the online institutions cited on his Web site. Mr. Gollin's material is now available on the State of Oregon's Office of Degree Authorization Web site ("

    Foster, Andrea L. "AAUP Defends a Professor's Web Site About Unaccredited Distance Programs." The Chronicle of Higher Education 21 Nov. 2003, sec. A: 28.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2003
  2. g-gollin

    g-gollin New Member

    it's all straightened out now

    Hi folks,

    Here's a brief version of what happened last September.

    Perhaps you recall: there was a version of American Coastline University that popped up suddenly, using the domain, last August. It was not related (in a consensual fashion) to the older ACU site with domain The ".org" site appeared to have used without permission a significant amount of content from the ".edu" site.

    I contacted the .org site to have my credentials evaluated as possible qualifications for a PhD in aerospace engineering and was told that my 1980 PhD thesis in elementary particle physics would satisfy the .org site's requirements for a doctoral dissertation in aerospace engineering. The .org site asked for $1235; I posted the information to DegreeInfo and that web site I had been maintaining at the University of Illinois concerning degree-granting organizations not accredited CHEA-approved accreditors.

    Within a week, the University of Illinois received email from "Daniel Taylor," the "Liberian Embassy, Washington DC," and Richard Hoyer protesting the posted information and discussing possible legal action against me and against the University of Illinois. The email claiming to be from the Liberian Embassy was actually sent from the address [email protected]. Recall that the domains and hold web sites which, before slight modifications a few months ago, had appeared to be web sites for the real Liberian Embassy. (Note that the actual Embassy web site is, and the real embassy email address is [email protected].)

    What took place after that is described in the pair of articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education written by Andrea Foster.

    Now, the University of Illinois is a fine school, and its policies and guidelines concerning various issues (such as academic freedom and faculty public service) are clearly described in the administration's web site. Higher education administration takes a good deal of intelligence, skill, and patience, and there is an impressive amount of talent to be found in the upper levels of administration at UIUC. Not surprisingly, after this matter atracted a little more attention from the administration, UIUC did the right thing: reassuring me (and the AAUP) in a letter that it "vigorously support academic freedom of all faculty as they pursue their teaching, research, and service responsibilities, and, of course, in appropriate circumstances the university will rise in support of faculty engaged in fulfillment of the university mission including contributions to public service." Further, "it has never been the university's position that non-disciplinary activity could not qualify categorically as public service..." The particular details of investigation of accreditation-related issues and curriculum delivery by entities not accredited by CHEA-recognized bodies is a particularly good example of a "non-disciplinary activity": it's education-related, rather than physics-related.

    So everything's cool (but it does make sense to keep all that web information on the Oregon ODA site). This is one of the nice things about working with intelligent, honest people. They usually do the right thing once they think it through.

    If you're curious, the UIUC description of faculty public service is contained in


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