Concordia College and University

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Concordia College and University is an entity with a primary mailing address in Dominica that represents itself as a higher education institution that awards associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees based solely on the purchaser's work and life experience, without any class attendance.

Locations[edit]

Concordia College and University has used multiple addresses. For most of its existence it has stated that it is incorporated in Dominica,[1][2][3][4] but it also has listed addresses in locations including the U.S. Virgin Islands, Spain, and Liberia.[3] As of February 2011, one of the multiple Internet domains used by this entity lists its name as "Concordia College & University Delaware," founded in 1999, with a location in Wilmington, Delaware.[5]

Accreditation[edit]

Concordia College and University claims to be recognized and accredited by the governments of Indonesia and Liberia, but it is not accredited by any higher education accrediting body recognized in the United States or most other countries where its degrees are advertised.

The school has been called a diploma mill by Allen Ezell, a retired FBI agent who co-authored the book "Degree Mills".[6] According to John Bear, Concordia College and University has an address in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and gives degrees based on "life experience".[7]

Concordia College and University claims that its degrees are recognized by the National Academy of Higher Education,[8] an entity that is not recognized as a higher education accreditor by either the United States Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation[9] and that several educational organizations identify as an unrecognized[10][11] accreditation organization or accreditation mill. In 2003 Concordia College and University was reported to be claiming accreditation by the Distance Graduation Accrediting Association, which is not recognized as an accreditor by the U.S. Department of Education or any foreign equivalent.[12]

In September 2004, The East Carolinian, the student newspaper of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina reported that "There are at least a half-dozen legitimate Concordia colleges and Concordia universities around the country. But Concordia College and University is a diploma mill that offers degrees in as little turnaround time as 12 hours."[13] The article noted, "The fake Concordia College and University admonishes Web surfers to 'be safe and purchase a government approved degree.' The government, it turns out, is war-torn Liberia. The school's offices are in Dominica, and its U.S. mailing address is in Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Its website domain is in Pakistan."[13]

In 2009, it was listed as a diploma mill by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.[14]

Concerns by U.S. state regulators[edit]

The Oregon Office of Degree Authorization lists a "Concordia University" in its list of unaccredited degree suppliers, and notes that it is a Class B misdemeanor in Oregon to use an unlawful degree.[15]

Concordia College and University also appears on a State of Michigan list of non-accredited colleges and universities.[16]

In 2003 the North Dakota Legislative Assembly moved forward a bill "that would punish anyone trying to use a degree from a diploma mill as a legitimate credential." In a 2003 article discussing the legislation, The Chronicle of Higher Education stated that "state officials are concerned that illegitimate institutions are mimicking the names of legitimate ones," citing as an example "an entity called Concordia College & University" whose name is similar to that of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, an accredited school attended by many North Dakota students.[12] The article further noted that for Concordia College & University "No classes or exams are required. Associate and bachelor's degrees cost $599, master's degrees $699, and doctorates $1,099, including shipping and handling, the site says, noting that degree recipients get a certified diploma and two transcripts, complete with watermarks."[12]

In September 2009, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann warned residents about Concordia College and University. Hosemann said Concordia College and University LLC has been using the secretary of state’s Web site to misrepresent the organization as a licensed educational institution. Hosemann said Concordia College is a registered limited liability corporation, but it is not accredited as an educational institution in Mississippi. Hosemann said a cease and desist letter had been sent to Concordia demanding that it remove the false and misleading claims from the company Web site.[17]

Individual cases[edit]

Seneca County, Ohio[edit]

In October 2006 a Seneca County, Ohio grand jury indicted John McGuire, the new police chief of Fostoria, Ohio on two felony counts of tampering with records and two misdemeanor charges of falsification involving his qualifications. The Toledo Blade noted he "obtained a criminal-justice degree from Concordia College and University, an online degree program in the Virgin Islands." [18]

In February 2007, the paper reported that documents filed in a drug case showed that Rocko, a police dog in the Fostoria police department, had also received a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Concordia in 2006.[19] The dog's degree was planned to be used as evidence in the court trial, but the prosecutor noted "I don't think it's necessary to bring the actual dog"[20] A few weeks later it was revealed that the degree had been purchased by Greg Peiffer, general manager and president of Fostoria radio station WFOB, who said it was obtained with minimal effort.[21]

The trial of McGuire was originally scheduled for March 2007[22] but was delayed.[23] In May, McGuire testified that the degree was based on a combination of life experience and transferred credits from courses he took at the U.S. Air Force Community College. The judge in the case ruled that McGuire "earned his degree", noting evidence that McGuire had helped search for bodies at the World Trade Center site after the September 2001 terrorist attacks, had attended the FBI Academy, had assisted in the search for Olympic Park bomber Eric Robert Rudolph, and had served in Operation Desert Storm. With regard to the diploma awarded to the dog, the judge said that "This court finds no similarity between those two degrees."[24]

Louise Wightman[edit]

In May 2007 Louise Wightman of Norwell, Massachusetts, was convicted of fraud and larceny for misrepresenting herself as a licensed psychologist and for falsely advertising that she held a doctorate in psychology. Part of her crime was claiming to have a Ph.D. based on having received a degree from Concordia. She holds a valid master's degree and devoted five years of study to a Ph.D. program which she did not complete. She is therefore legally qualified to use the term "psychotherapist" but not "psychologist" according to state licensing requirements.

She told the jury that she felt she had earned a Ph.D., so she paid about $1,300 to obtain her degree (Ph.D. with a major in psychology) over the Internet from Concordia College and University.[25] This credential ultimately proved to be worthless.[26]

Joe Galloway[edit]

In 2010, IT services firm EDS lost a court case brought by broadcaster BSkyB after the British High Court ruled that the company had misled BSkyB about its expertise.[27] Part of EDS' case hinged on the testimony of Joe Galloway, a former Managing Director for CRM Solutions, who provided implementation timeframes to BSkyB that later turned out to be unrealistic. Galloway's credibility as a witness was severely undermined by his defence of a mail-order degree from Concordia. Although he "gave detailed evidence on how he took plane journeys between the islands and attended a college there", a member of the opposing legal team managed to obtain the same degree for his dog "Lulu". The blow to the witness' credibility was reported as pivotal to the success of the case.[28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Archive of concordia-college.net, May 23, 2002
  2. ^ Archive of concordia-college.net, July 2, 2008
  3. ^ a b Contact addresses page on website http://www.cu-edu.us/, accessed February 8, 2011
  4. ^ "Concordia College and University celebrates 10 years of serving the Distance Learning Community", PRNewswire-USNewswire. PRLog Free Press Release, 28 Apr. 2009. Accessed Feb. 23, 2011. "Concordia College & University was founded in 1999 in Roseau, British West Indies. . . .The school has increased its enrollment numbers, and is increasing and updating the resources and facilities in Roseau." (note: this press release is linked to in the President's message (under "12th anniversary !") on the current version (as of 2/23/2011) of the website of Concordia College and University Delaware
  5. ^ Homepage of www.concordia-college.net, entitled "Concordia College & University Delaware", accessed February 8, 2011
  6. ^ Fake Diploma Fox News25, May 18, 2005
  7. ^ Bear, John; Mariah Bear (2003-01-01). Bears' Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning. Ten Speed Press. ISBN 1-58008-431-1.  page 211, 212
  8. ^ "Accreditation". concordia-college.net. Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "Institution Accreditation Database". United States Department of Education. 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  10. ^ Credential Watch
  11. ^ Unrecognized Accreditation Agencies
  12. ^ a b c Carnevale, Dan (2003-01-01). "North Dakota Lawmakers Move to Bar the Use of Fake Degrees". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  13. ^ a b Diploma mills offer degrees for a price and not much else, The East Carolinian, September 30, 2004
  14. ^ Ezell, Allen (2009), "Recent developments with degree mills", College & University Journal (Vol85 No 2): 40 
  15. ^ Oregon Office of Degree Authorization
  16. ^ State of Michigan, Colleges and universities not accredited by an accrediting body of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation
  17. ^ Hosemann warns of diploma mill in Mississippi Mississippi Business Journal September 11, 2009
  18. ^ Police chief in Fostoria accused of tampering Toledo Blade. October 20, 2006
  19. ^ Jennifer Feehan and "Police dog's bachelor's degree prods legal howling about chief", Toledo Blade, February 28, 2007
  20. ^ "Dog With Online Criminal Degree May Be Use in Trial as Evidence". Associated Press. 2007-03-01. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  21. ^ Sandra Whitta, Lawsuit threatened over alleged 'trash talk, Fostoria Review Times, March 27, 2007.
  22. ^ Fostoria Review Times, Chief's day in court will be in 2007, November 9, 2006
  23. ^ Shuff cleared to hear case, Factoria Review Times, April 5, 2007
  24. ^ Jennifer Feehan, "Fostoria police chief is acquitted: Judge tries to clarify matters in tampering case", Toledo Blade, May 16, 2007
  25. ^ Ex-stripper found guilty in fraud psychology case by Megan Tench and Andrew Ryan, The Boston Globe, May 4, 2007.
  26. ^ Also see "Fake diploma", Fox 25 Undercover, Fox News, Boston, May 18, 2005, for the story of her indictment in 2005.
  27. ^ "EDS loses vital court case against BSkyB" Jan 27, 2010
  28. ^ "Key EDS witness bought internet degree," iTnews, Jan 29, 2010

External links[edit]