Ann E. Lewis, leader of Pencader Charter School, in Newcastle, Delaware, says that she holds a Ph. D. degree from Westfield University.
The only problem is that Westfield University doesn’t seem to exist. There is a major crisis in the world of higher education: the large and growing number of fake universities and fake degrees.
There is a website called college-degree-fast.com, and after completing a brief online application and paying a small fee, the site offers applicants a degree of their choice from any of several “universities.” One of those institutions is Westfield University, where Pencader High School leader Ann Lewis says she received her PhD.
Westfield University Doesn’t Seem To Exist
The interview with Lewis is posted here, but here are a few highlights:
“I got my MBA without my master’s thesis from Westfield University,” states Lewis.
A reporter states that a 25-year-old colleague applied to Westfield through college-fast-degree.com, and was offered a Ph.D. in organizational leadership.
When Lewis is questioned about her own Ph.D., she states that she didn’t have time to finish it, but got the Ph.D. anyway: “I finished this as far as I needed to do.” Apparently that should be enough to qualify anyone to get a Ph.D.
Accredited College Degree In 7 Days!
From Delaware online:
The name of the website leaves little to the imagination – college-degree-fast.com.
If that wasn’t clear enough, big red letters in the middle of the home page say, “Accredited College Degree In 7 Days!”
And, just to show how easy it will be to get a degree of your very own, the site also promises, “NO ATTENDANCE, NO TESTING, NO STUDY, NO EXAMS.”
Last month, Yahoo ousted its CEO, Scott Thompson, who claimed a computer science degree he hadn’t earned. In 2007, Marilee Jones, a dean at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stepped down for falsifying her academic accomplishments.
As an educator, I find it deeply troubling that other educators can simply pay the fee, get the diploma and put it up on their wall. What does this say about their respect, or lack of, for education?
Significant Portions Of The “University” Website Stolen From Harvard Business School
As Nicole Dobo, reporter for The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, discovered, significant portions of Westfield’s website are copies of passages from the Harvard Business School’s website. In one line, the creator of the site even neglected to replace “Harvard Business School” with “Westfield University.”
The picture of Westfield’s president is actually an image of a model taken from a stock photo website. Accompanying the photo is “a note from the president,” which is the same as text used in an online directory of graduate degree programs.
But the most obvious red flags for Westfield’s site are the lack of any listed addresses or contact information other than a fax number and an email address that bounces back as undeliverable, experts said. Westfield also claims to be accredited without saying by whom.
Many institutions will offer different types of doctoral degrees, most of them professional doctorates.
But a PhD. is considered the pinnacle of academic achievement. It can be awarded in subjects ranging from history to engineering. But regardless of the field, they all require several years of dedicated work and, in many cases, personal sacrifice.
Before getting approval to start their dissertation work, PhD candidates must appear in front a panel of scholars to make an oral presentation and undergo rigorous questioning about the project they plan to pursue. After that, they must perform independent research and publish findings that make an original contribution to their field of study.
Apparently not in the case of Westfield University.
Success! Westfield University Takes Down Website
Success! After unearthing this horrible case of fake degrees in the story published last Sunday in The News Journal, it appears that the sites for Westfield and College-Degree-Fast.com are no longer operational.
Congratulations to the team from The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, for an excellent piece of sleuthing.
And let’s hope more of these fake degree factories continue to be exposed.
Photo Credit: Sfaiez