Ireland's Chief Science Advisor has bogus degree

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by galanga, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. galanga

    galanga New Member

    Degree of doubt for Bertie's boffin, Donal Lynch, The Irish Independent, October 9, 2005.
  2. oxpecker

    oxpecker New Member

  3. oxpecker

    oxpecker New Member

    A couple of other less frivolous points should probably be made:
    1. Pacific Western is not "fake."
    2. McSweeney has had an illustrious career as a scientific administrator. So his credentials for the job are not really in question.
    I'm pleased to see this case arise. Should make an interesting litmus test. Everyone should be required to state their views!
  4. galanga

    galanga New Member


    I have heard, in certain New England circles, Stanford referred to as the "Cornell of the West."
  5. galanga

    galanga New Member

    look at this

    See this news story:
  6. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    oxpecker: "Pacific Western is not 'fake.'"

    Bear: Is 'fake' different from fake? Is 'fake' more fake or less fake than fake, or fake or fake or fake

    When the American Journal television program did a long story on Pacific Western roughly ten years ago, they showed their undercover reporter getting a degree (don't recall if it was Master's or Doctorate) in nine days from initial application to receiving diploma.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2005
  7. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    The key facts, as they appear to me, are as follows:

    (1) McSweeney’s PhD degree in biotechnology & biochemistry was legally obtained from an institution that was approved to offer such degrees by the State of California.

    (2) The level of effort and original research required to obtain his PhD degree were grossly substandard relative to the level of effort and research required at accredited PhD programs.

    My opinions, based on these facts:

    (1) McSweeney has the right to tell others that he holds a Pacific Western PhD degree. It is, after all, the truth.

    (2) But others have the right to ridicule his degree. The fact that it is legal does not automatically mean that it merits respect.

    I think Oregon’s current law gets it right. If you hold a legal, but unaccredited degree, then you can advertise it -- but only if you acknowledge that it is unaccredited. McSweeney should have candidly acknowleged the unaccredited status of his degree when he started the job; if he had done so, it would probably not be an issue today.
  8. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Caldog, that's what's happening. He claimed it, now he's being ridiculed. Rightly so. But you're wrong about PWU's legal status. It was never approved to award such a degree.

    Just because the degree is legal doesn't make it real. The rest of the world outside our little enclave expects degrees to come from recgonized institutions. But schools like Pacific Western aren't recognized by the rest of the educational community.

    This is just another example demonstrating that the main factor in the utility of these degrees is that most (or all) people don't know the true nature of them. When they find out, ka-boom.

    By the way, Pacific Western was never "approved" to award such degrees. There was a time when they were "authorized" to do so, but never "approved." (There is no longer an "authorized" category, and PWU has been approved to award degrees in California in only one discipline.)

    A degree is supposed to represent something. Many people feel a degree from an unrecognized school fails in that regard and, thus, is deceptive. I'm not saying that, but a lot of other people sure are about this guy.
  9. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Dr. Bear:
    I don't disagree with your comments but would like to know why grads can get educational credit for Calif. licensing exams if this is the case.

    I think the state of California plays no small part in this deception by allowing this to happen. It is then not unreasonable for someone to believe that Cal approved DL schools are a credible option.

  10. davidhume

    davidhume New Member

    Rich makes a valid point about PWU not been 'approved' to issue the degree in question.

    However, maybe the degree was issued from their Hawaiii 'campus' if that is still operational. In that case, it could at least be regarded as a State 'tolerated' degree.

    But I think Rich's blanket comment about unaccredited schools was a bit 'rich', especially given his own involvement in such institutions and programs over the years.

    Be that as it may, it is quite obvious that this official's use of an unaccredited degree in his position was suicidal, career and reputation wise.
  11. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    I concur entirely with Dr Douglas' observations, and would add this.

    I was almost (note: almost) taken in by PWU.

    Why not? Because I'm just so darn smart? Uh, no. Not hardly. Here's why not:

    1) I ran across degreeinfo while looking for something else entirely

    2) I ran across degreeinfo and not one of the psychofora

    3) I got doubletalk from PWU on what was "Hawaii" and what was "California"

    4) I was assigned a dissertation supervisor whose credentials were in a field totally unrelated to that of my dissertation.

    5) I was told that whatever I got done in 6 months would be sufficient and that a page limit of 100 pages seemed appropriate for a humanities diss.

    6) I was told that there was no defence of the diss nor any review of it by professors other than the supervisor.

    7) I was told that there was no style manual for diss format

    8) I was told that photocopies of transcripts were sufficient; no need to request originals

    9) I was cautioned against foreign-language quotes in the diss unless they were in Spanish


    I won't characterise PWU. I'll let you work that out.
  12. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Last I heard, the school had been successfully sued by the State of Hawaii's tireless Mr. Brunton and was shut down.

    His academic credentials certainly are.

    Litmus test and views about what? I'm not sure what issue I'm supposed to be commenting on.

    I guess that I'll say that the guy may or may not be a good administrator. Lots of people without doctorates are great administrators. But unfortunately he couldn't leave it there. By claiming what looks to me like a fake (sorry, but it does) degree, he seems to me to have called his own judgement and ethics into question.
  13. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Licensing exams in what, exactly? The CA-approved Pacific Western is only approved to offer degrees in business administration.

    I don't believe that Pacific Western was ever approved in California to offer doctorates in biotechnology and biochemistry.

    Allows what to happen?

    My understanding (Rich and John probably know more about this than me) is that PWU once operated from California and offered degrees in everything under the sun. Then California tightened up its laws and PWU responded by getting its business programs approved while moving all of its other programs to a 'new' spinoff school with the same name operating from a Hawaii address. That operation was subsequently shut down by state regulators in Hawaii.
  14. Guest

    Guest Guest

    " what,exactly?"

    PWU,Newport,SCUPS and LaJolla U grads were listed as passing a recent Calif. Psych board exam. Newport grads can sit for bar exam:

    "Allows what to happen?"

    Allowing people with less than wonderful degrees to get educational credit when applying for licensing exams. This is absurd. What happens when a Newport educated lawyer moves to Oregon?


    "....Pacific Western was ever approved..."

    Rich did say however they were authorized to do so. But in reality what is the difference? What is one a joke and the other a total joke? And why should there be difference? Did California ever know what it was doing
    in regards to DL schools?
  15. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Two, to be exact. One in its start-up (Greenwich), where I did an internship, and one (VIU), a B&M start up where I taught some classes for a while.

    These two experiences somehow disqualify me from making statements about the utility and perception of degrees from unaccredited schools?

    "Over the years"? Six or 7 months with Greenwich and teaching as an adjuct with VIU for 2 years? I've been active in this field since 1979.

    Which "blanket comment" do you disagree with and why? Surely you're not going to limit yourself to a vague, disparaging dig, are you?:rolleyes:
  16. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Rich and John might, but you've captured it precisely. (I don't know PWU's current legal status in Hawaii, though others certainly do.)
  17. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Which occured in the late 1980's, when the DL scene was much different than today, by the way.

    Why is it that some people are so thick-headed they can't notice that times change? Or is warping reality to fit their agenda really the issue?;)
  18. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    It is an advantage to have been there during such times. California Approval used to be a huge deal, and only a few DL schools had one or more programs Approved. Here's how it went:

    Before 1989, California had a 3-tier system under 94310. Accredited schools were permitted to operate without any state inspection under 94310(a). But it was the unaccredited schools that were handled differently.

    To be legally Authorized under 94310(c), all an entity had to do was declare itself a university, submit an application attesting to 13 areas of its operations, and attest that it had at least $50,000 in assets towards the school. (This wasn't checked very well, and some unusual claims were made to reach that dollar figure.) But here's the kicker: the state didn't verify the 13 areas. There was no inspection or evaluation, and you could offer degrees in just about any area, no questions asked.

    The state also had a tougher, tighter category, Approved, under 94310(b). This was programmatic approval, with each degree program going through a rigorous evaluation process. (There was even language in the law for a few years that state Approval of a degree was comparable to accreditation, but it was utterly ignored by both the business and higher education communities.) Only a few schools had any Approved programs, and those that did typically offered one or several Approved programs, and then everything else under their Authorized status. (CCU was the first 100% DL school to get all of its programs Approved, but it had a much more limited set of degree programs than operations like PWU.)

    Many schools, like PWU, Century, Central California, Golden State, U. of Beverly Hills, La Jolla U., and Kennedy-Western operated without any of their programs approved. No academic standards were ever applied to these schools, until the state finally eliminated the fly-by-night Authorized category. They went to institutional approval (instead of the previous programmatic variety) and required all schools to achieve this much-watered-down new standard. Some did (like CCU, Columbia Pacific, and California Pacific--all of whom already had some approved programs), while others (PWU, KWU, UBH, Century, and Golden State) "moved" to more lenient jurisdictions. Finally some, like La Jolla and Central California U., simply closed.

    These days, there are some California Approved schools operating, but the quality seems to vary widely. Most of the good ones (other than new openings) have gone on to accredited status. Some (WISR, Cal Pacific U., and others) are small and serve niches. But the "Wild West" days of unaccredited DL in California are largely over.

    Whew! Got it?:D
  19. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    The fact that you don't like California is noted. But how is California even relevant to this thread?

    California abolished its 'authorized' category (which was kind of a joke) back in 1989, I believe. Pacific Western chose to leave that state rather than conform with its newly mandatory approval standards. PWU moved all of its programs except those in business (which were approved) to Hawaii where a 'new' spinoff school operated for more than a decade, until it was ultimately sued and closed by Mr. Brunton's office a year or two ago.

    I expect that's where Ireland's Mr. McSweeney acquired his doctorate in biotechnology and biochemistry. The Irish newspaper story tells us that he obtained it in 1994.
  20. miguelstefan

    miguelstefan New Member

    Well, it seems to me that Pacific Western University is legaly approved by the state of California. Therefore, the degree is not fake. However, I believe that such a degree can be characterized as substandard and therefore not fit for someone in a position of power in the state, specially in such a sensitive field.

    Imagine an Attorney General or Supreme Court Justice with a degree from North Western California School of Law. I bet you can't and neither can I.

    Anyway, one thing I never got, and maybe someone can clarify this for me, is the Professorship. What is it? Is this a degree or is it having professor privilidges at an University? Because I was a professor at the UNPHU based on a Bachelor, and I do not see how that would make someone more than a Doctor?

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