SATS Principal has degrees from "degree mill"?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by johnrsorrell, Oct 26, 2005.

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  1. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    Dr Grover put up his posts while I was typing mine. My post is not a riposte to Dr Grover's serious posts or the questions he asks, and must not be construed by anyone as such. Dr Grover is my friend and I accord him all honour.

    I also thank Dr Jackson for his civil--if slightly logorrheic--participation in this thread. ;)
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2005
  2. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Logorrheic!!!! I almost talked myself when I saw that!
  3. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member


    And I too have said here , I think, that Peppler's UZ doc makes Peppler credible. And I too have said, even though I worry about some SATS issues as I expressed in another thread, that SATS also is credible.

    But you know me and know that truth to me is important , and neither am I easily pushed around.

    I'm off now for cardiac rehab at the hospital where I for an hour while peddling my bike going nowhere, will memorize the dozens and dozens of personal Greek pronouns in an effort to restore my grammar while rehabilitating my heart.

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2005
  4. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    Just so, Bill. You are a pillar of the DI temple; whether Jachin or Boaz I cannot say.
  5. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    And as the late Freddie Mercury said, "get on your bike and ride!"
    Good health to you, my good friend Bill.
  6. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    I'm not one of your 'Christian brothers'.

    As for the 'ignorant and blatant slander' part, did anyone say anything about you that isn't correct? Actually, I think that if you go back and review all the posts that pertained to you, before the thread veered confusingly off-track, you will see that you were cut a lot of slack.

    The gentleman who started this thread was interested in applying to your institution. Faculty and staff qualifications are of interest to prospective students. When administrators boast degrees from schools that some people might find questionable, that reflects on their own credibility and that of their institution. It's a legitimate topic of discussion. Nobody is discredited necessarily, but the questions do arise.
  7. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Engine engine #9...When the train falls off the tracks, will you get your money back?

    Hey! I resemble that remark!

    Actually, I was just taking up the invitation:

    That said -- I think I've about exhausted any views I have that are even only tangentially related to the matter at hand. So....

  8. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member

    I did not mean , Unk, that you were the one trying to push me.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2005
  9. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member


    Dr. Peppler is proven credible because of what he has accomplished with SATS and also by his UZ doc. IMO that is indisputable.

    He offers to explain his ITS ThD and his NU PhD privately. Possibly he would condescend to instead do so publicly since he goes on publicly listing those degrees as earned qualifications and publicly thrashed some of us in this thread for questioning them .

    Possibly that ThD was done before Dr. Chris realized the lack of integrity (as I see it) of ITS or its ThD degree... I dunno.

    I looked at the International Theological Seminary website Bill Dayson provided above, the website of that school which chooses not to be accredited because , "accreditation requires giving up Christian principles."

    I focused on the ThD curriculum. IMO anyone who knows anything about Christian higher education knows that that curriculum is far from being doctoral level. EG, A book by Henrietta Mears is not suitable to be the principal text in a doctoral survey course in Bible. For that matter, why would a doctoral student in Theology be doing survey courses in Bible anyway?

    It seems to me that the school , ITS, has given up already some Christian principles , like (1) requiring honest doctoral work for a ThD , whether it remains unaccredited or not. There is the possibility that this reason to not be accredited is, (2) in fact, a ruse, a fib, a LIE, and that the chance of ITS gaining accreditation is about the equal of the chance of me parting the Red Sea with a rod. Neither is that ITS truth stretching Christian.

    But perhaps it too would have some verse to throw back at me for daring to question it.

    Anyway, I'll shut about the whole matter unless further posts need to be answered.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 29, 2005
  10. Dr Chris

    Dr Chris New Member

    I have been asked to respond publicly although I offered to respond privately to any genuine enquirer simply because I believe this to be the best possible method of dealing with personal accusations. The text to which I referred (Mtt 18:15) sets out a three-step method of dealing with problems between followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. First, a private one-on-one encounter, then, if necessary a moderated/witnessed encounter and then, and only then, a public exposure of the problem. The comment that degreeinfo is not a church and that this modus operandi does not apply to it is IMO invalid. The Lord Jesus gave us a method of resolving issues between us and I believe that we should follow His directives in any forum.

    Much of the discussion on the thread revolved around the differences between RA and UA qualifications. There was also a lot of input on the matter of evaluating the worth of a degree in terms of its rigor, institutional reputation and so on. I will not comment on ITS or NU from this perspective. It is up to the readers of this thread to make their own responsible and thorough enquiries and to arrive at their own determinations. I have not had any dealing with these two institutions for many years and I cannot give an opinion on their current standards and practices.

    The personal criticism levelled at me appears to centre on the issue of earned versus bought degrees so I will respond as follows. I founded SATS a decade ago. At that time South Africa did not have a regulated private higher education system. Only public universities were allowed by law to issue degrees and so SATS needed a relationship with either a public South African university or a foreign seminary in order to provide students with degrees. The accepted practice at that time was for public universities to agree on equivalency of subject matter and quality and to issue a degree based on the students achievement at the private college. At that time there was no national accreditation system and not even public universities enjoyed formal accreditation as we now know it today. I was not prepared to enter into a relationship with the only public distance learning university in South Africa because I did not accept their theological stance on most key issues. I entered into correspondence with Dr Ken Hughes of ITS and liked his approach to the recognition of prior learning (again, something essentially unrecognised in SA at that time). As part of our exploratory relationship I applied for acceptance into their doctoral programme. My theological and ministry prior learning consisted of a two year Methodist Church of SA diploma, a three year diploma (B.Th equivalent) through the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa, and seven years of full-time pastoral experience as the senior pastor of a local church. In addition to that I have the Institute of Bankers in SA certificate, the Damelin Business College management diploma, the University of the Witwatersrand Business School Executive Management Diploma and their Marketing Diploma, plus several years as the head of the training division of Western Bank. ITS gave RPL for much of this and accepted me into the ThD programme. I was required to complete a +_ 360 page dissertation on ‘Systematic Theology from a Charismatic and Local Church Perspective’. I flew to ITS in Bradenton, Florida and met with Dr Hughes and with the man who had assessed my thesis. At that time I examined their state licence standards and submissions and inspected their campus. They were then very small but, as far as I could ascertain they appeared to be running a legitimate seminary. So, it is up to those who read this to determine whether or not they regard this degree as ‘earned’. I do.

    Now concerning the Ph.D from Newport University. We at SATS were starting to get a number of M.Th applications from candidates who considered ITS too sectarian (Church of God) in orientation. I knew the principal of Executive Education here in South Africa who, at that time, had an arrangement with NU for issuing degrees after their students had completed the required number of credits locally. At that time NU had a Religion faculty. I applied to enter their PhD programme for two reasons. Firstly to experience their quality and administrative capability before enrolling any SATS students, and secondly to further my own education. They appointed Dr Rex Mathie as my local tutor/promoter. Rex (now deceased) was one of the leading theological educators in SA, a past principal of BTCSA and an internationally recognised Baptist minister and theologian. NU required me to complete nine subjects plus a dissertation. Dr Mathie assessed all of my work and awarded an overall 1+ grade. My work was then submitted to NU in the states for moderation and external assessment. So, do I consider this degree as earned? Yes I do.

    Then came the advent of the South African Qualifications Authority and the Council on Higher Education. Degree issuing arrangements with foreign institutions (RA or UA alike) were banned. As a result we at SATS entered into an arrangement with UNIZUL whereby they recognised the credits earned with us by our students and issued a degree on completion of our programme. I took this opportunity to apply for entrance into their D.Th programme and they accepted me on the basis of prior qualifications and experience. I had to submit all my certificates and transcripts. Because both ITS and NU were not RA they had to obtain approval from both Faculty and the University Senate. My thesis was titled ‘An Introduction to Systematic Theology: for teaching within an outcomes-based distance learning programme devised for pastors of South African Churches’. My supervisor was Prof. A.L.Pitchers.

    I trust that this has provided the information sought by some of the contributors to the DI thread.

    Now, I would like to comment on the way the DI thread has been handled. The original question concerned a rumour that I have ‘2 bogus degrees from a US degree mill’. So right at the outset the matter was set in the context of ‘bogus’ and ‘degree mill’. The poster cannot be blamed for this but it would have been good if the moderator had made some attempt, right at the outset, to place the matter in proper perspective. The thread then continued in a reasonable and amicable manner until the moderator did in fact enter the discussion. What he did, however, was to stimulate a debate around ‘outing’, using me as a sort of case study. Despite words like ‘or so it is alleged’ he IMO reinforced the impression that my qualifications (or at least two of them) were bogus and that I am apparently being treated differently from others whom DI have ‘outed’. The debate concerning degree mills, bogus degrees and the like is surely legitimate and has, I suspect, been debated to death on DI. What I object to is the personalisation of the debate and the unfounded assumptions made. Quinn Tyler Jackson has already written most eloquently on the dangers of this factless sort of trial by opinion so I do not need to restate the matter. However I would like to repeat his warning that ‘nobody should be raked through the mud. Period. It is unethical. It is cruel…’ Quinn Tyler Jackson had a lot more sound comment that should IMO be taken to heart.
  11. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    You shouldn't presume that all participants at Degreeinfo are Christians or influenced by your choice of scriptural verses.

    I have no way of knowing what work you did or didn't do to earn your degrees from ITS and Newport University. I'm forced to take your word for it. And that's precisely the problem: It might not be very wise to trust the degrees.

    If SATS' management seems unconcerned with the credibility of the degrees that it pursues for itself, then what reason do prospective students have for assuming that they will reliably maintain SATS' own standards?

    Perhaps the SAQA approval and so on do satisfactorily assure that. But this really isn't helping matters. It's a legitimate concern.

    Personally, if I were you, I wouldn't boast of the ITS and Newport degrees. I'd just list the University of Zululand degree. But that's your decision to make.
  12. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member

    Dr Chris,

    Thanks for your explanation. I think I agree with Bill D. on this.

    This issue is not quite as simple as "earned" vs. "bought." The question comes back , why would the present principal of an accredited SA school in earlier days choose a very substandard US school ,as is ITS, to get a ThD. Why not choose a good school?

    Your UZ supervisor , Pitchers, did grad work (MDiv/ThM) in the USA too but did not choose such a substandard school as ITS in which to do it..

    I ask you now asyou are a Christian educator to examine the ITS website and say honestly lf the school (1) has a substance and curriculum which warrants IYO giving doctoral degrees and, (2) if ITS does not misrepresent its reason to avoid accreditation.

    Do these ITS practices honor your Lord IYO? Are they good and sound practices to employ in higher Christian Ed IYO?? Do you not have a Bible verse for ITS too?

    You seem to be saying that you did good work despite the ITS lack of requiring rigor and that that justifies your choice of ITS. Does it? Then why be concerned at all with the rigor of SATS IF it is the student that makes the school and not the school that makes the student?

    I have already opined that both you and your school are credible [although I would suggest some changes at SATS and so , I underestand ,would our friend Cory Seibel who now is doing a doc at Pretoria ], but I don't think any in credible American higher Christian Ed will be convinced by your explanation that getting the ITS doc was a good choice.

    re Matt 18, it is NOT I who is affected by your degree from ITS. IT is the many who do not know a good school from a bad one. By listing that qualification publicly, and perhaps by that setting an example for others, IMO you allow public responses to it.

    Now I will be quiet in this thread unless someone rings the bell again.

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 1, 2005
  13. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member


    I see that one on the other forum whom I thought was a friend and about whose person and education I believe I NEVER have said an unkind word has compared my UZ doc with docs gotten from ITS as BOTH being " easy"


    Then I guess I'm really very incompetent as it did not seem so easy to me:

    1) In preparation for the successful research run at the doc, I did theological work in RA/ATS schools for the MA, MDiv, and THM including learning two languages and a doing an academic thesis which is sold through TREN . I also have graduated from teaching programs from two universities. Including undergrad work, JUST that theological preparation took me eight years before even beginning the doc . Actually as I worked full time teaching school while getting ready to do the doc in Theology , it really took me ten or eleven .

    2) Then, the UZ work took three more years . I could give full time to it as I was semi retired by then . So, I have eleven years of full time work, by anyone's standard , to finish with the ThD. The duration, therefore, was not easy.

    3) Neither was the rigor! The dissertation was informally evaluated by a local prof of Biblical GreeK who called it done at a rigor "equal to that of a DTS PhD dissertation" from which school he got his own PhD (Prof Dr Gary Derickson) of Corbin College (formerly Western Baptist Coll ) and OTS. I would not think that he would agree that it was so easily done .

    4) The evaluators from three SA unis made comments as: "diligent research work was offered and the logic was clear " AND , "the attempt to correct a theological error was diliberate and successful" AND, "doctoral theses of this nature are certainly thought provoking" ( Prof, DR Pitchers) AND, "the thesis reflects well on the candidate's ability to do research" AND, "he has made a good contribution to our knowledge on the subject" (Prof, Dr. Greyling ) AND, " this is a very good dissertation which shows extensive knowledge of the existing literature both historical and current" AND, "it makes an important contribution to current theological thinking both in Africa and back in America" AND," this dissertation fractures a false tradition" ( Prof, Dr Smit) . I don't think they'd agree either that it was very easily done .[ I admit to having to fix many typos and Greek transcription and footnoting and Bibliographical entries]

    At 65 years of age ( or one month before) I earned the ThD, and, it was NOT easy!

    How in the world one could call this "easy" escapes me. It also seems to have escaped the notice of the one who posted over there that in this VERY thread I said that Peppler IS credible , and further that I thought some few UA schools might be even more rigorous than some RA schools. But no, not even that balance on my part is sufficient to satisfy some! So, accreditation was NOT the issue aty all with me!!! But that all goes unnoticed.

    Shortly after graduation I joined a seminary accredited by TRACS as an assistant prof in the area of my dissertation. AT 65 I have a new ministry. The well known Christian scholar associated with that same seminary, Prof DR H. W.House, called my SA work credible. Neither would he agree that it was so easily done.

    But the poster over there knows more about how easy ThDs are gotten than all of these PhDs in their, and my, field.

    So, what IS my crime? It is that I suggested that Peppler made a bad choice in ITS and that ITS itself was not at all rigorous. BUT why would that offend anyone over there? Because it is not to be admitted over there that one who chooses a substandard school should be required to defend that choice. So, to put me in my place, my own UZ work is labled "easy" to get back at me for daring to say anything about why one chooses a substandard school or about the school itself.

    If it is so easy to do what I did, I invite that poster to foresake the CCU program (in Bus Admin is it ?) and to tackle instead a credible ThD in Systematic Theology himself !

    But that poster over there and any here at DI who rush to defend Peppler and/or ITS have NOW a common cause, so possibly this thread did some good anyway.

    Balance and truth do not seem to be either noticed by some or to be goals of some, but IF TRUTH IS sought, then here is my challenge: if any will join me here and argue that there is any virtue in the ITS' ThD curriculum as it is described at the ITS website, , then let's do that ! I am ready!

    Be consoled Dr. Chris, you both have friends here AND defenders in that other place who defend you to protect themselves. I personally believe that SATS IS good and that you ARE a good and scholarly man who , however, made a bad choice with ITS.

    Bill ( who always takes the easy paths)
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 1, 2005
  14. Guest

    Guest Guest


    Please create an autobiographical blog. We get it. You have an earned Th.D. from an accredited institution, you teach at an accredited institution, and you can perform exceptional Greek exegesis.

    How many posts do we have to read pointing this out time and time and time and time and time and time and time again and again and again and again and again and again.

    Gee! :eek:
  15. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member


    Didn't realize you HAD to read any.

    I don't know how many posts , but apparantly not enough to convince the poster at the other forum who said that. Why don't you ask him? Any way, it was a perceived need to provide info that his illogical comparison lacked that I was responding to and not a need on my part to bore you personally again and again.. Sorry that my explaining in detail why he erred caused you bother.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 1, 2005
  16. johnrsorrell

    johnrsorrell New Member

    I want to say that I in NO WAY wanted the name of Dr. Peppler to be slandered. My intentions were pure, but now, as hindsight is 20/20, I realize that my inquiry was handled in the wrong manner.
    My original inquiry about SATS was in this thread:
    This shows that I was not out to "get" anyone. I found what Dr. Peppler did very honorable in defending his name and the name of the school, which he represents. He is an honorable man and after further research I have found has a great bio and heart for service in God's ordained ministry. I am honored to associate with Dr. Peppler and SATS.
    I wish I could erase this thread as it has caused me much grief. I repent and regret ever starting it. I hate how it was "spun" into what it has become. If you were to review my posts in the mentioned thread you can see my history of being lied to by Trinity Newburgh and how I honestly wanted to make sure that I had all my bases were covered.
    Please forgive me, Dr. Peppler, I meant you no harm and now realize my error.
  17. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

    Hello Jimmy, welcome back. I hope that you've been OK, perhaps just a small vacation from the forum?

    It seems to me that we've all read more than a few postings from you regarding your own educational history as well as current endeavors. I would hope that you might show a bit of patience if Bill feels the need to clarify some points as to his own history and accomplishments. Not everyone on the forum has been around as long as you and I have and so sometimes the facts need to be repeated for the newer members. I hope you and your family are well.
  18. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    I don't think you did anything wrong, John. Many people on this forum have regrets about some of the decisions they have made about particular schools. This seems like just the right context to ask such questions. It would surprise me if others haven't wondered about the very thing you asked about. Dr. Peppler's explanations satisfied me. He definitely seems like an honorable person. If you hadn't asked your question here, perhaps many of us wouldn't have heard his story. God bless.

  19. telefax

    telefax Member

    Discussion of SATS on this board is frequent because of its interesting programs and the favorable exchange rate. Recent posts have probed SATS’ standards in the areas of prerequisites for admission, use of original languages, strength in the area of Old Testament studies, the relative prestige of ZA versus UK schools, the parallels between SATS nomenclature and typical US degree nomenclature, etc. This is what discussion groups like this exist for, right? So now a question is raised about the education of SATS’ Principal, but that is off limits?

    As Bill and others have said, I’m all for giving Peppler a break on a personal level. I don’t think much of some of his past educational choices, but those who know him say he is a man of integrity, and his UNIZUL Th.D. is certainly qualification enough to be the Principal of a seminary.

    Yet all I see Bill doing in this discussion is expressing his concern for the quality of Christian education. Yes, he talks often about standards, but as a Christian I think such standards in our educational institutions are important. Jimmy, I don’t see Bill using his education as an example to toot his own horn, but to provide context for his reasoning.

    My two cents…
  20. JArminius

    JArminius member

    One person does not make or break a school, unless that person is the sole employee or sole authority within the school.

    Dr. Peppler's degrees are not bogus and are not from "degree mills."

    I would not base my choice because of Dr. Peppler; I would base it on utility.

    And as far as utility goes, an "accredited" degree from a school in the U.S. would generally have much more utility in the U.S. than any South African degree would have.

    I would put my gun back in the holster and think about this one...

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