Tulane Professor Fired for Merely Possesing a "mill" Doctorate

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by friendorfoe, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    It seems to be a question of professional ethics. Claiming a full-frontal degree-mill degree is a lie, pure and simple, delivered in a work context to colleagues and to clients (in this case students). If an employee is otherwise qualified and competent, then the appropriate response is going to be an employer's judgement call, I guess. What I have trouble understanding is when employers knowingly allow employees to continue making work-related lies. The employer seems to have made the organization complicit in those cases.

    I think that I'd replace WISR with the Burnham Institute as my example. It's newly CA-approved and tremendously substantial and impressive. (Two doctorates, one of them offered jointly with UCSD, no DL.)

    I think that the question here is whether or not a convincing case can be made for the school and for the degree in question. If somebody starts bleating "Not accredited! Not accredited!" about Burnham, a graduate could point to its 30 year history as a non-degree-granting research institute, to the hundreds of scientists it employs, to its NIH research grants, to its bigtime collaborations, and to the scientific work it produces. It wouldn't be difficult to justify a decision to study there, and what's more, to justify that decision in purely academic terms. (As opposed to typical DL cost/convenience terms.)

    Of course, Burnham's state approval is less than a year old and nobody has graduated from its programs yet. By the time somebody eventually does, the place will likely be RA or well along that road. But it's still a great example.

    I agree with that. If somebody is confused about what's on offer, then it's possible to just stick with regional accreditation and ignore everything else. "RA or no way", that's safe and sane. But there are alternative accreditors out there with slightly different visions, for those who are so inclined.

    And there are even a small handful of state-recognized schools that offer defensible visions that are nevertheless unaccreditable for some reason. Dharma Realm Buddhist University's quasi-monastic model is an example of that. (A student's day starts at 4 AM and includes traditional religious ritual in addition to classes. WASC told them that a religious accreditor would be more appropriate than RA, but no suitable accreditors analogous to ATS, ABHE, AARTS or TRACS exist.)

    The fact that something like that can exist at all, that it hasn't been driven out of existence by well-meaning but badly-conceived legislation intended to protect people who aren't trusted to make their own decisions, is one of the things that I appreciate about our current system.

    But greater complexity and ambiguity do make it a lot easier to be dishonest. Our freedoms place additional responsibility on us to be critical and discerning in what we do and accept.
  2. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member

    Bruce, it appears that he was qualified with his legit credentials.

  3. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I suspect that many of us are familiar with the fact that employers frequently require employees to sign certain sorts of documents when they are hired and that these documents usually say something like this at the end, "If any of the information I have provided is found to be inaccurate or otherwise untrue..." with one possible outcome being the loss of employment. Along the same lines, I would imagine that someone in that sort of position would be making somewhat more money based upon having earned a doctoral degree and that accepting this money without having actually earned the degree would constitute fraud of some sort. So, I would guess that in this case it is entirely irrelevant whether the employee was qualified to teach without the doctoral degree. I suppose it might be mildly interesting to know whether they claimed the degree before they were hired or if they were already teaching at the school when the PhD "appeared."
  4. APerson

    APerson New Member

    Exactly. To purchase and use a fake doctorate that has been purchased from a diploma mill is extremely unethical and displays a gross lack of character which should not be tolerated under any circumstances.
  5. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member


    I agree with you in this. And as I have stated before, I believe Capella is wrong here. You raise valid and interesting points :)

    IMHO, I would like to believe that Stottlemeyer was hired on the basis of her RA Masters and her outside credentials. If that is so, then from a "fraud" standpoint, the "doctorate" does not matter, unless the "doctorate" enters into the compensation picture. My guess is as an adjunct, the level of compensation is based on how many students she teaches and if she is teaching at the Bachelor's or Masters level.

    The truth is, we will never know.

    But, from a strictly HLC accreditation standpoint - the adjunct instructor has a master's degree from an RA institution, and she has outside credentials as well. Capella has kept her on as an instructor for quite some time now. Perhaps she is active in her courseroom, is an effective teacher, and intergrates real world practice into her courses. If so, that might be why Capella has kept her on as an adjunct instructor.

    Again, I believe that Capella is wrong for keeping her on, but if she was hired based on her outside credentials and her RA Masters, then in the eyes of the HLC she is a qualified instructor, and IMHO Capella is not doing anything "illegal" or "unethical." But it sure looks bad.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 22, 2007
  6. jerryclick

    jerryclick New Member

    FWIW: My personal criteria for determining whether or not it is a mill is if my bulldog can qualify for a Doctorate. Example--> http://ulc.org
  7. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    Hi CR - With all due respect I have no idea what you are referring to. My post was related to the original article in this thread. I know nothing of anyone named Stottlemeyer. If there is a similar situation occurring at Cappella then I confess that I am unaware of it.

    It was my intention to point out that if a faculty member was dismissed then it is unlikely that it was "merely" for possessing a degree mill doctorate. The article clearly states that the person in question was hired on the strength of their Masters degrees and so it would seem to be a stretch to say they were fired for the mere possession of a milled doctoral degree. I was simply trying to point out that there were probably other, complicating factors. The two I mentioned were simply the first two that came to my mind. It may apply to the Cappella case but I can not say that I know that to be the case. As you indicated yourself, we will probably never know the whole story in these cases as there is a level of confidentiality that is generally respected (although I understand that we are talking about the press).
  8. raristud2

    raristud2 New Member

    The poster who first mentioned Stottlemeyer is APerson. Aperson was the first one who introduced Capella. APerson, do you know who Mr.LaMarca is?
    http://www.soka.edu/page.cfm?p=833 :) Im sure you do ;)
  9. AGS

    AGS New Member


    They should have entitled the story " Professor fired due to questionable credentials."
  10. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member


    No problem - and thanks for your reply.

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