Non-traditional route to full-time professorship

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by chrisjm18, Feb 3, 2020.

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    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    This gentleman received his Doctor of Information Assurance (DIA) from the University of Fairfax, he is currently a program director at the University of Maryland Global Campus. He lists himself in LinkedIn with a Ph.D. Is this a false presentation?
  2. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Care to share what you plan to do with, or re: any information you might receive? And for what reason?
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2020
  3. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Definitely. He could have just used Dr. in front of his name if he didn't want to list the bullshit DIA post-nominal letters after his name.
    innen_oda likes this.
  4. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    It is, but it is also not uncommon. To many, "PhD" is shorthand for "Doctorate" rather than being specifically the Doctor of Philosophy. I have seen many people do this, however. My earliest recollection of it occurring was a professor I had at Scranton who was a psychologist with a PsyD who periodically referred to her "PhD." We have had a few engineers come and go who did the same, though those were often cases where they possessed degrees that are really not commonly used in this country like the D.Sc.

    I have not seen anyone use the post-nominal PhD while rather openly holding that their doctorate is actually a DIA (which, as chrisjm18 notes, is a bullshit post-nominal).

    My own personal view of post-nominals and degree titles is that it's OK to get creative with things as long as you don't misrepresent. For example, if you have the Master of Arts in Professional Development from Amberton University and you focused all of your studies in Human Behavior Development, Religion and History, I don't think it would be unacceptable to list it as "Master of Arts - Interdisciplinary (Religion, History and Human Behavioral Development)" even if it isn't specifically stated on the diploma that it is a degree in interdisciplinary studies. My reasoning here is that even if not stated, that is still an accurate description of what you have and a description that may reduce confusion over an oddly named degree. That particular degree could appear to the untrained eye to be a degree in "professional development" which might be interpreted as a similar thing to "organizational development." I'd rather someone rephrase the degree type than waltz into an HR role using a degree made up of unrelated coursework which they pretend is relevant to the field.

    The same for people who earned a Master of Science in Business Administration but just say they have an MBA (it's the same thing, not like claiming your MSM is an MBA).

    Likewise, I think it's game on for the holder of a Doctor of Arts to opt for the post-nominal D.Arts. or some variation if they didn't want to make people think they were claiming to be a district attorney.

    This is not any of that, though. This is just misleading. I don't think he is necessarily trying to be dishonest but he is using a post-nominal to which he is not entitled.

    Lastly, I will share a piece of workplace advice that I think really helped a recent graduate some years ago...

    "Using academic post-nominals in the workplace makes you look like a tool."
    not4profit likes this.
  5. not4profit

    not4profit Active Member

    I think y'all are making a big deal out of nothing. It's LinkedIn, not his resume. Also, the bottom of his profile shows that it is a DIA. Most likely the dude just didn't want to confuse people with the letters. DIA is also the name of a fed agency so maybe he didnt want to cause confusion that way.

    Also in looking at the program he attended, there doesn't seem to be that much difference from a PhD (which there often isnt with EdD, DPA, etc). He probably just didn't think it was that big of a deal in context.
  6. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I'm not saying I don't understand his rationale for doing it, I do. I just disagree with it being done as it is claiming a degree he does not have.

    If you have a Doctor of Education then you have a Doctor of Education. Saying you have a PhD is false. It's not a "Well, whatever, doctorates or doctorates" situation. There is nothing wrong with having a DIA. But a DIA is not a PhD. The easy way around this is to list your degree (as he did) but not use post-nominals if you wish to, as you say, avoid confusion.

    And also, "It's LinkedIn, not his resume" is not an argument that would hold water. Lying about your credentials is problematic even on LinkedIn.

    That said, would this guy be automatically fired if he worked at my company and did this? No. But we would refuse to print PhD on his business cards unless he showed us proof he had that degree. A similar thing happened some years ago when we hired an account manager who claimed to have an MBA. What he actually had was a degree in Educational Administration. It was definitely heavy with business courses. I will give him that. But it was not an MBA. His claim that it was "equivalent" to an MBA didn't change the fact that it wasn't an MBA.

    He ended up quitting a year later and he did cite this perceived disrespect as one of his reasons for departing.

    But realize that, especially in that role, he is representing our company and was misrepresenting himself in the process. Still, it isn't like we fired him over it. Same here. The guy may be very good at his job. But you can't claim a degree you didn't earn to "avoid confusion."

    Edit: I'm also less than impressed with his "MS Certificate" from Villanova. This guy likes to walk the line. Cool if you're Johnny Cash, otherwise...
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  7. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Well, for some reason, the University where this guy works goes along with the gag. His faculty page on the University site says Ph.D. and there's a picture of him receiving a teaching award - big sign with his name, Ph.D. They MUST have known this when they hired him ... maybe they all like to make things up as they go along... His Diss. is easily available via the Internet and it clearly states what degree it's written for.

    And he still got that teaching award, after all those adverse comments on "Rate my Professor." SOMEBODY must like him.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2020
  8. not4profit

    not4profit Active Member

    Yeah once you start doing it on your official university page that starts to get harder to defend.
  9. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Despite all the above, I don't think it would be a good idea to stir up a hornet's nest over this. What good could come of it? Probably none - and possibly a lawsuit. Maybe only nuisance value, if it did - but plenty of that. As the Beatles sang, "Let it be." Or as the Stones countered, "Let It Bleed."
  10. not4profit

    not4profit Active Member

    Maybe we are looking at it from different contexts. Having done many, many internal employee investigations, the LinkedIn argument would hold a lot of water. Especially since he is listing the DIA at the bottom of his profile. I am just saying that from my lens (toward holding people accountable officially). Maybe from other angles it is a major problem.

    I agree that you cant claim a degree you didnt earn, but when it as (or could be) an equivalent degree and you are sometimes spelling it out things get a lot murkier as far as actually formally holding someone accountable.

    Johann mentioned some other more official examples happening at the University. I think that is a very different situation. Just my opinion.
  11. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I still hold to my original view. No good would come from pursuing this - for anyone.
    Song for the occasion: "Just Walk on By." - Apologies to Dionne Warwick.
  12. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Many years ago during my degree-mill-busting days, I found a professor at a prominent southern university who held her Ph.D. from a blatant degree mill in the Caribbean. “Hmmmm,” I thought, “this will be an easy bust.”

    So I sent an e-mail to every other professor in her department, naturally including her department chair, the dean, the president, etc. Even threw in a zinger or two about the university’s lack of due diligence and credential verification. Then sat back to enjoy the shit hitting the proverbial whirling blades.

    I never questioned her motivation in using a phony doctorate, merely the fact that she had one. In fact, over the years I’ve learned not to question motivation – a person with a degree mill credential may sincerely believe that their degree is legit. Not everyone is an intentional rip-off, although the result is the same as if they were.

    And then I had a thought . . . let’s say, hypothetically, that this professor actually believed she had a legitimate doctorate. That she was one of those “cheap-fast-easy” idiots who simply didn’t know the difference between her phony credential and the real thing. And let’s say, hypothetically, that my action in exposing her made her so depressed that she would commit suicide.

    I decided that if she were, in fact, to kill herself because I exposed her, I would feel like shit. And from that moment on, I never initiated the exposure of another university teacher with sleazy credentials.

    Side note: She did threaten to sue, going so far as to have an attorney contact me with the threat of litigation. The attorney was from a prominent Philadelphia law firm and was well credentialed in defamation law – he would have been a formidable adversary in court. I responded to the attorney’s letter by noting that my action had been based on public information and that, insofar as the professor’s credentials were published on both the university’s catalogue and web site, the professor was a public personality. (That is an affirmative defense in a defamation action, along with the notion that what you said was true in the first place.) I never heard from them again.

    In the case under discussion here, it’s clear that we’re seeing some dumb-asses at UMGC. So what else is new? There will always be people who bullshit their credentials. Always. Forever and ever, amen. They’ll make great examples in everything from lectures and workshops to posts like this one. But as far as exposing them? You won’t even begin to make a dent in the problem.

    I have spoken.
    Rich Douglas and Johann like this.
  13. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Let me be clear, I am not saying we should expose this guy or even that what he did was even so bad as to warrant exposure.

    However, and I'm really surprised that this is so controversial around here...

    1. Faculty vetting is inconsistent. Faculty are seldom hired on the sole basis of their degree. So weighing candidates against one another is not like regular hiring. Two candidates show up, both have Ivy Leagye PhDs. They specialize in Shakespeare. Then someone shows up with a PhD from the University of Alabama but specializes in Keats. If you're hiring a professor to maybe an endowed professorship who is an expert on Keats, the other two aren't really in the running. This happens with regular hiring a well. You can be an amazing benefits specialist but if I'm hiring a recruiter, you go to the bottom of the pile. Because this process is driven by faculty with minimal HR input, you often have fewer checks along the way. Faculty are given a long leash in hiring their own. Professors have been hired with criminal records where they would be otherwise ineligible to work on staff at the same school. So no, there is no reason to think that a school did anything more than a cursory check or that they scrutinized the details of one's transcript to notice such inconsistencies especially where the uhh...alternative truth, is something very common. Professors are expecting a PhD. He says PhD, all good.

    2. There is less vetting for an adjunct than for a tenure track position. It's unclear what his role actually is. It sounds like a good title. However, I can tell you from two guys I used to know from lodge that it's possible to hold multiple appointments. Both were Program Directors but, academically, were only adjuncts. Your place in the professorial hierarchy (adjunct, lecturer, assistant professor, associate professor, professor) can be independent of your administrative posting (e.g. Director of the MA in Who Cares Program). Once you're in with a foot in the door, an internal move can sometimes require less scrutiny than an outside hire. The private sector equivalent is in hiring temps. We don't screen temps as vigorously. And it's easier for a temp to get a permanent job as an internal applicant than as an external applicant.

    3. Yes, you can rephrase and be a little creative with stuff. Again, an MA in Professional Development becomes an Interdisciplinary MA. A Bachelor of Professional Studies in Business gets listed as a B.B.A. This stuff is fairly common. But I don't think doing it at the doctoral level has the same leeway. again, an EdD is an EdD it is not a PhD even if those initials make more sense. The converse is true also, if you have a PhD and get a job as a school principal it's misrepresentation to say you have an EdD. You might have a PhD in Education. You undoubtedly have a Doctorate in education. You do not, however, have a Doctor of Education.

    Below the doctoral level the distinctions matter very little. The reasons why something is called an M.A. vs an M.S. vs an M.P.S. have less to do with academic content than, often, some weird institutional history that is almost certainly not relevant today. And M.A. and an M.S. in Psychology has no discernable difference by virtue of its classification as an art or science. The individual programs may vary but the art of science piece does not matter. For a doctorate, that distinction does matter.

    Lastly, props to this guy for representing an NA doctorate well. Most unfortunate that he misrepresents his credential, however.
  14. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I was going to walk away from this but I just have to reiterate...

    All of this comes down to the desire to use a post-nominal. That's it. There is nothing wrong with having a DIA or a DM or DA or any other uncommon doctorate. The only thing this affects is your ability to put the letters after your name and have people understand the meaning. Two years I spent at the University of Scranton (in person) plus my online MBA time. I think I had two professors actually list post-nominals on a syllabus. My economics professor (undergrad elective), in fact, listed his name as "Mr. First Name Last Name, PhD." Academia can be snobby as hell. And I get why this guy would want to be able to show in a conspicuous manner he has a PhD. Hell, maybe his current school TOLD him to do it this way to avoid confusion!

    But doctorates are academic credentials. And things like this degrade that reality and turn them into honorifics that accompany an academic appointment. Other things do it as well. The naprapathy license is actually called "Doctor of Naprapathy." The license seemingly confers the title of doctorate. I've seen at least one state that does the same to acupuncturist (Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine regardless of degree level). At a certain point we, as a society, need to decide if doctorates are degrees awarded by institutions or government imprimaturs stating "this person is smart, we guess" or both. But I don't think we should take it upon ourselves to get too creative with that as individuals.

    To Steve's point, calling people out is messy business. And I would also hate to have it hang on my head that I broke the last string that caused a person to snap. Years ago, a professor at the local community college in the town where I lived fell apart when his time bomb went off and, sadly, he took his own life. It all really just highlights the simple truth; there is no definitive answer to "do employers accept X?"
    Johann likes this.
  15. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

  16. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Why? There are, literally, hundreds of professional doctorate titles.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  17. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I totally disagree. About as many--if not many--more doctorate-holders work in the private sector than do in academia. Their titles matter. This is especially true in consulting, government contracting, and in government, not to mention myriad professions. Academic titles--as well as professional certifications--are fungible assets that have tangible value.
  18. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    That is a distinction without a difference. They function in exactly the same way and for the same reasons.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  19. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    True - all. But fungible means you can replace like with like. It doesn't mean, as in this case, that you can replace a D.I.A. with a Ph.D.

    And again - I'm in agreement with all those who say no further steps by us are necessary or desirable, here.
  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    If the person isn't a public figure, or if you don't have some sort of personal standing in the matter, I don't see how you can jump in and yet avoid being vulnerable to a suit based on tortious interference. This is especially true when the matter is a technical one, not necessarily a material one. Yes, having a "DIA" and calling it a "PhD" is wrong. But the simple truth may not protect you from such an accusation.

    Also, even if you're right, getting sued sucks. If you think it feels better to win a lawsuit as a defendant than it does not being sued at all, you're not paying attention. It sucks. It was not worth the time, expense, nor hassle, even with winning an anti-SLAPP countersuit. I could have done without any of it.
    Johann likes this.
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