Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Recent events at two large North American universities signal dramatically that we have entered a new era in higher education, one which is rapidly drawing the halls of academe into the age of automation. In mid- summer the UCLA administration launched its historic "Instructional Enhancement Initiative" requiring computer web sites for all of its arts and sciences courses by the start of the Fall term, the first time that a major university has made mandatory the use of computer telecommunications technology in the delivery of higher education. In partnership with several private corporations (including the Times Mirror Company, parent of the Los Angeles Times), moreover, UCLA has spawned its own for-profit company, headed by a former UCLA vice chancellor, to peddle online education (the Home Education Network).
Tensions are rapidly mounting today between faculty and university administrations over the high tech commercialization of higher education. During the last two decades campus commercialization centered upon the research function of the universities, but it has now shifted to the core instructional function, the heart and soul of academia. In both cases the primary commercial impulse has come from non-academic forces, industrial corporations seeking indirect public subsidy of their research needs and private vendors of instructional hardware, software, and content looking for subsidized product development and a potentially lucrative market for their wares. In both cases also, there has been a fundamental transformation of the nature of academic work and the relationship between higher educational institutions and their faculty employees. With the commoditization of instruction, this transformation of academia is now reaching the breaking point.
Far sooner than most observers might have imagined, the juggernaut of online education appears to have stalled. Only a year ago, it seemed there was no stopping it. Promoters of instructional technology and "distance learning" advanced with ideological bravado as well as institutional power, the momentum of human progress allegedly behind them. They had merely to proclaim "it's the future" to throw skeptics on the defensive and convince seasoned educators that they belonged in the dustbin of history. The monotonal mantras about our inevitable wired destiny, the prepackaged palaver of silicon snake-oil salesmen, echoed through the halls of academe, replete with sophomoric allusions to historical precedent (the invention of writing and the printing press) and sound-bites about the imminent demise of the "sage on the stage" and "bricks and mortar" institutions. But today, alas, the wind is out of their sails, their momentum broken, their confidence shaken.
All discussion of distance education these days invariably turns into a discussion of technology, an endless meditation on the wonders of computer-mediated instruction. Identified with a revolution in technology, distance education has thereby assumed the aura of innovation and the appearance of a revolution itself, a bold departure from tradition, a signal step toward a preordained and radically transformed higher educational future. In the face of such a seemingly inexorable technology-driven destiny and the seductive enchantment of technological transcendence, skeptics are silenced and all questions are begged. But we pay a price for this technological fetishism, which so dominates and delimits discussion. For it prevents us from perceiving the more fundamental significance of today's drive for distance education, which, at bottom, is not really about technology, nor is it anything new. We have been here before.
In January, 1998, a controversy erupted at UCLA over its relationship with a private company, The Home Education Network (THEN), with which it was engaged in the delivery of distance education. The controversy was prompted by disclosure in the first installment of this Digital Diploma Mills series, and subsequent media coverage, of some of the details of the arrangement, by that time already five years in the making but still relatively unknown on the UCLA campus. Two days after the appearance of an article on the deal in the Los Angeles Times, Robert Lapiner, UCLA's Dean of Continuing Studies and University Extension (UNEX), wrote a letter to the newspaper's editor. Lapiner clarified that THEN was not a part of UCLA but an independent privately-capitalized company, and UNEX was not UCLA but rather an independent self-supporting division of UCLA. He maintained that the UNEX-THEN relationship was sound and beneficial.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Phil Williams, the WTVF-Channel 5 investigative reporter with the nasal
voice and regular-Joe mustache, has made a career ending careers,
authoring televised executions of creaky pols whose capital crimes are
evident to even the dimmest viewer. ...
Last week, the most feared reporter on Nashville's air took on
obscure government employees for touting anemic academic credentials.
His best target was Eddie Andrews, a vice president at Nashville
Electric Service, who earned an MBA from Kennedy-Western University. A
congressional investigation four year ago revealed the school to be
little more than a diploma mill, churning out fraudulent degrees to
whoever could afford them. The school's tests were open-book and
multiple-choice, and if students flunked, they could simply keep
retaking them until they passed. But a spokesperson for NES said
Andrews had no clue Kennedy-Western was a sham institution, "because
the course work seemed difficult."
Kind of makes you wonder how many NES executives it takes to screw in a light bulb.
Even worse, NES shelled out $15,000 in public funds for the not-so-higher education of Andrews and two colleagues.
Williams then turned his sights to our state's public colleges,
reporting how several professors burnished their résumés with degrees
from institutions about as intellectually rigorous as a Larry the Cable
Guy movie. Their pursuits were not born of mere vanity. Professor
Michael Wright boasted a pair of Ph.D.s from a university forced to
shutter its doors in Hawaii, then Australia—but not before he used them
to pull in an extra $1,700 annually from Southwest Tennessee Community
Still, the best moment in the series came when the stakes were the
lowest and Williams barged into the office of an irritable man named
Frank Reed. He's the softball coach at the University of Tennessee at
Chattanooga. To be hired, Reed needed a college degree, so he listed
his diploma from Western States, a now-defunct company that offered
"life experience" degrees for serving as a tutor or volunteer fireman. ...
A South Korean court on Tuesday upheld an earlier ruling sentencing
a former university professor to 18 months in jail for faking a Yale
doctorate and embezzling museum funds.
The Seoul Western District
Court said its appellate court affirmed its sentence against Shin
Jeong-ah for using the fake degree to become an art history professor
at a Seoul university and win financial sponsorship for a museum where
she worked. The court handed down the first ruling in March.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Alabama's public institutions face regular accrediting examinations,
but the state also has more than 250 private, for-profit institutions
that offer degrees. Some of them are legitimate schools, accredited
institutions that present legitimate higher education alternatives.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Could Governor Get Online Doctorate Degree?
Posted: July 14, 2008 10:57 PM
Gov. Phil Bredesen
NewsChannel 5 Investigates" discovered a state employee with a suspect degree from Belford University.
But we were curious just how far Belford would go in handing out a fake
degree. So we went into an online chat using the name of Gov. Phil
Bredesen. It wasn't really Phil Bredesen, but the online "counselor"
didn't seem to care.
Below is the text of the chat:
Please wait for a Student Counselor to respond.
You are now chatting with 'Catherine'
Phil Bredesen: Hello!
Catherine: Welcome to Belford! How may I assist you today?
Phil Bredesen: I was interested in getting a doctorate degree. Can you help?
Catherine: Sure. Have you filled out an application online yet?
Phil Bredesen: No. I'm not sure that I have the right experience for a doctorate. What are my other options?
Catherine: how many years of total work experience do you have?
Phil Bredesen: Quite a few years. Rather than pulling together all that information, can I just submit a paper or something like that?
Catherine: you can fax me your resume and i can fill out your application right now and get you approved for a Doc Degree.
Phil Bredesen: That fast?
Catherine: Well you need an application to be filled out. then you will have to pre-authorise the fee and get evaluated for the degree
Phil Bredesen: I'm trying to get a top job in state government. Will my degree be recognized?
Catherine: It is fully recognised and fully verifible. If they want to check your degree they can call the university and do that.
Phil Bredesen: Does Belford offer degrees in Vegetable Psychology?
Catherine: No we dont offer that major.
Phil Bredesen: Is there something similar?
Catherine: You can go for Psychology.
Phil Bredesen: Would that allow me to engage in psychology?
Catherine: Ofcourse. You can apply anywhere you want to on behalf of that.
Phil Bredesen: Can I just buy a dissertation and submit it?
Catherine: you mean just pay for the degree?
Phil Bredesen: Is that an option?
Phil Bredesen: I'll pay extra!
Catherine: No, you have to get evaluated first. I can get you rush evaluated right now if you are ready togo ahead and sign up.
Phil Bredesen: Do I have to worry about being turned down?
Catherine: if you have relevent work experience then you will pass. how many years of work experience do you have?
Phil Bredesen: I've been governor of the state of Tennessee for the last five and a half years. Would that count?
Catherine: can you fax us your detailed resume so we can get you evalutaed
Phil Bredesen: You can find my resume here: http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/governor/About.do
Catherine: ok let me check
Phil Bredesen: Thanks, Catherine.
perfect. I can extract info out from your website to get you evaluated
and i'm sure that you are going to pass. I can fill out your
application and get you rush evaluated and get you this degree in no
Phil Bredesen: That's wonderful! ...
Does it really matter whether doctors, nurses and engineers have legitimate degrees?
Of course it does. And it’s in the public’s best interest to know
when people holding responsible jobs bought their “degrees” from an
online diploma mill instead of attending college, taking classes and
But even though the U.S. Department of Justice knows the identities
of more than 10,000 people who bought fake degrees from a single
Spokane-based diploma mill, it won’t give out that information. The
U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington, James A. McDevitt, says releasing
the names of the people who bought phony degrees is contrary to
Department of Justice policy.
Then the policy is wrong and needs to be changed. The only party
that benefits from the policy is the customer with a fake degree. The
public and employers are losers.
The owner of the mill – which made millions as part of an Internet
scheme – was sentenced last week to three years in federal prison for
conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Several employees received
The mill sold fake degrees in nursing, medicine engineering,
counseling and other fields from phony institutions such as St. Regis
University and James Monroe University. It also sold counterfeit
diplomas from legitimate universities, including Texas A&M, the
University of Tennessee and George Washington University. It didn’t
matter if employers tried to check out the diplomas; the mill’s owner
had a separate operation to handle verification calls.
It’s easy to see how the public’s safety is put at risk by allowing
people with fake degrees to continue in such jobs as nurses, doctors
and engineers. But there are also financial considerations. Employers
often pay higher salaries, give promotions and provide more lucrative
retirement benefits based on workers’ educational levels. And many of
the phony degrees went to people in public sector jobs, such as
schoolteachers and firefighters – so taxpayers foot the bill for the
At least one of the diploma mill’s customers worked in the White
House, and dozens of others worked for the Department of Defense. A
fake degree even allowed an Army enlisted man to become an officer.
Disclosing the names of those who bought fake degrees – and the
resulting publicity – could serve an important deterrent effect. But
failure to disclose the names allows the customers to continue
defrauding their employers and makes the government an accessory to
Most seriously, it puts the public’s health and safety at risk.
On the Web How can you tell if a school is actually a diploma mill? Go to the Inside the Editorial Page blog: firstname.lastname@example.org/oped.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Faye J. Grund, M.S.N., R.N., a MedCentral employee since 2003, is the new president of MedCentral College of Nursing.
Juanita Reese Kline, Ph.D., R.N., a MedCentral employee of more than 20 years, has been tapped as academic dean and director of the baccalaureate nursing program, according to Cindy Jakubick, corporate director of public relations and marketing at MedCentral Health System. ...
Kline earned her doctorate degree from Kennedy-Western University in Cheyenne, Wyo., and her master of science degree in nursing from The Ohio State University. Her doctoral dissertation focused on ethical behavior among student nurses. She continues with research in this area and has been invited to share her findings with nurse educators at conferences and summits.
She is a member of the board of directors for the Ohio League of Nursing and serves on its board of directors.
She and her husband, Jon Kline, live in Mansfield.
Operators of a Spokane diploma mill are heading to federal prison,
while senior Justice Department officials say they are going to keep
secret the names of the 10,815 buyers who used the bogus and
counterfeit degrees to get jobs, promotions and enhanced retirements.
James McDevitt, the U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington, reversed
his earlier public promise to release the names, saying last week that
a Justice Department policy prevents him from releasing them.
The region’s senior federal law enforcement official took that stand
Wednesday after one of his staff prosecutors, assistant U.S. attorney
George J.C. Jacobs, said in court that the buyers’ use of such bogus
degrees in the health care, engineering and other professions “puts the
public at risk.”
“I was hoping at some time we could release the list of names of
these buyers,” McDevitt said in an interview. “I’d love to release the
list, but I’ve been convinced it would be contrary to (Department of
Justice) policy,” he said.
That decision is expected to draw criticism from higher education
and academic accreditation agencies, as well as open-government groups.
“I can’t imagine why they would not make this information public,” a
woman who works at a Spokane-area college said Thursday in an e-mail
requesting buyers’ names from The Spokesman-Review.
“Who are they trying to protect?” she asked.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
When Husain Mahmoud was hired as head coach of Chicago State
University's baseball team last year, his resume looked impressive: A
30th-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds. A college football and
baseball star who held a collegiate punting record. A professional
football player with the Chicago Fire of the now-defunct World Football
League who had also been a league-leading quarterback in the
Continental Football League.
But a Sun-Times examination found Mahmoud -- the Gary finance
director for 12 years until 2006 -- was never drafted by the Reds and
didn't play for either football league. Central State University in
Ohio, from which Mahmoud graduated, could not confirm his claimed
Chicago State fired Mahmoud three weeks ago and removed his
biography from its Web site, but officials won't comment on why he was
The Department of Justice is keeping secret a list of 10,815 people who
bought fake degrees from a Spokane, Wash., diploma mill to get
promotions and enhanced retirements, including people from countries
that harbor terrorists. Court hearings showed that at least one of the
purchasers worked in the White House and dozens others were Department
of Defense employees, according to a story by the Spokesman-Review.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Attorney James A. McDevitt announced
Thursday 58-year old Dixie Ellen Randock, 41-year old Heidi Kae Lorhan
and 40-year old Roberta Markishtum, all of Spokane, were sentenced
Wednesday for their roles in conducting an international diploma mill.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
An Eastern Washington woman who bribed officials from Liberia to
assist in an international diploma mill operation was sentenced
Wednesday to three years in federal prison.
When Dixie Ellen Randock, 58, formerly of Colbert, gets out, she'll
have her business and personal financial dealings, as well as her
computer monitored by the feds.
Friday, July 04, 2008
Obtaining a fake degree online is a risky action that may jeopardize your reputation for life. Nevertheless, such fakes are in demand for people. When the internet started to flourish, almost anything could be done and today more and more people are doing their shopping, running their business and getting their education online. Like all huge market-places, fraud unfortunately is a part of the game on the internet market, and offering fake degrees online is just one of many examples of such fraud.
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Monroe was one of more than 120 fictitious universities operated by Dixie and Steven K. Randock Sr., a couple from Colbert, Wash., who sold diplomas for a price, according to a three-year federal investigation that ended in guilty pleas from the Randocks to mail and wire fraud. The inquiry into their diploma mill, which operated most often as St. Regis University, provides the most up-to-date portrait of how diploma factories can harness the rapidly evolving power of the Internet to expand their reach.
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The leader of a diploma mill that sold more than 10,000 fake high school and college degrees around the world has been sentenced to three years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.
Dixie Ellen Randock, 58, sold counterfeit degrees and transcripts from phony as well as legitimate universities to more than 9,600 people in 131 countries for more than $7.3 million, Assistant U.S. Attorney George J.C. Jacobs said Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
To make her operation appear legitimate, Randock funneled cash bribes to at least one Liberian Embassy worker, getting the Liberian Board of Education to accredit her universities. ...
She told the court she was "sorry for everything," including using more than a half-dozen aliases to set up St. Regis University, James Monroe University and dozens of others that operated out of office buildings in Mead and nearby Post Falls, Idaho.
Randock also sold phony degrees and transcripts from legitimate universities, including the University of Tennessee, the University of Maryland, Texas A&M, George Washington University and several others.
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Thursday, July 03, 2008
One of the operators of a notorious diploma mill, Dixie E. Randock, was sentenced today to three years in prison, according to the federal prosecutor’s office in Spokane, Wash. Ms. Randock, along with her husband, Steven K. Randock, had pleaded guilty to fraud-conspiracy charges in March.The Randocks made millions of dollars selling fake degrees online, usually issued under the name Saint Regis University.
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Wednesday, July 02, 2008
A legislative staff analysis of Senate Bill 823 declares that during the 1980s, California acquired the reputation of being "the diploma mill capital of the world."
That's not quite true. There were a couple of states, including neighboring Arizona, with worse reputations as redoubts for private, for-profit, trade and professional schools that charged big fees to students and offered little educational value. But California was right up there as a haven for diploma mills.
In response to a ruckus from defrauded students, consumer groups and the media, the Legislature tightened regulation of private schools and colleges a couple of decades ago. But the regulatory law expired a year ago, which would have been an open invitation for diploma mills to crank up again.Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had vetoed a bill to extend regulation, saying he wanted "meaningful protections for students" and promising that he would propose "comprehensive reform" himself. But like many of the governor's grandiose pledges, it came to naught.
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Barbara Smith, Ph.D. Inducted into Cambridge Who's Who Executive, Professional and Entrepreneurial Registry
"...she hopes to start a university-based academic practice."
Moorestown, NJ, June 13, 2008, Barbara Smith, Administrator at South Jersey Eye Physicians, PA ...
Dr. Smith became a Certified Medical Practice Executive through the American College of Medical Practice Executives in 1998 and is a Certified Professional Coder. She earned her Ph.D. from Warren National University, formerly Kennedy-Western University, in 2004. She is affiliated with the Medical Group Management Association and the American Academy of Professional Coders.
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