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January 18th, 2005


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10:55 pm - Ummm ... scary ?
Edit-an-ohnosecond-after-posting: Forgot the link.



Laura L. Callahan was very proud of her Ph.D. When she received it a few years ago, she promptly rewrote her official biography to highlight the academic accomplishment, referring to it not once or twice but nine times in a single-page summary of her career. And she never let her employees at the Labor Department, where she served as deputy chief information officer, forget it, even demanding that they call her “Doctor.”


Of course, the degree was, to put it mildly, a bit light on the "original contribution to human knowledge" front :


It turns out that Callahan’s phony diplomas from Hamilton were backdated. Hamilton boasts on its Web site that it can “custom tailor” degree programs “to meet the needs” of busy professionals. Callahan’s advanced degrees were required for her Labor promotions as well as her Homeland Security transfer. Her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees officially were conferred in 1993, 1995, and 2000, respectively.


And yes, she later worked in the USA Department of Homeland Security, as deputy chief information officer. Apparently, hundreds of others in important departments (Defense, Homeland Security, Transportation, Justice) also have various sorts of false qualifications.
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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:hnpcc
Date:January 18th, 2005 03:59 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees officially were conferred in 1993, 1995, and 2000, respectively.

Hah! Brilliant!

Actually the sentence that gave away that she definitely didn't have a PhD was:

referring to it not once or twice but nine times in a single-page summary of her career.

If it had said "she mentioned it once and then refused to talk about it ever again, running screaming in the opposite direction whenever anyone asked about her thesis topic..." I might have believed she did a PhD. ;-)

Seriously though, how scary is that? You'd think that (especially for the Homeland Security Department) they'd be doing a full background check. Mind you, you'd think if you're going to quote dodgy degrees you wouldn't act like an arsehole and cause your staff to start checking you out surreptiously.

*shrug*
[User Picture]
From:dalmeny
Date:January 22nd, 2005 01:39 am (UTC)
(Link)
she mentioned it once and then refused to talk about it ever again, running screaming in the opposite direction whenever anyone asked about her thesis topic...

*snort*

Too right.
[User Picture]
From:correspondguy
Date:January 18th, 2005 04:20 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Are these really false qualifications? They're certainly worthless, but did she disguise the origin? If not, then what did she do wrong, exactly? I mean, if I tell you that I worked for the CIA, and you assume that I mean the Central Intelligence Agency, when in fact I worked as a janitor for the Culinary Institute of America, have I misled you?

From:kriste
Date:January 19th, 2005 12:02 am (UTC)
(Link)
In the same way that I'm a member of the RSC :)

What it raises as a philisophical point is are degrees diplomas etc even worth anything if you can do the job anyway?
And even more so if you obtained it legitimately and can't do the job properly ...

Though "backdating" degrees for which you have not done any work for is duplicitous, even if the origin is revealed. Mostly because a degree should have a common definition by which it is understood and it is unfair to expect an interviewer/personnel to understand it in a _significantly_ different way ...
[User Picture]
From:halfflat
Date:January 19th, 2005 05:10 pm (UTC)
(Link)
There can still be misrepresentation without saying something that is strictly speaking false. And I think the act of misrepresentation, especially when used as she did to lord it over subordinates and compromise the effectiveness of a very important government organisation, is wrong.

Actually, there are two independent wrong things: misrepresentation of ability and experience for personal gain at the expense of others; and abusing the power she had over those lower in the hierarchy. Sometimes the second seems excused on the grounds of competence (though not by me!), but the first of course complete undermines any such justification.
[User Picture]
From:correspondguy
Date:January 19th, 2005 05:55 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hmm. I guess I call that "being an ass and wasting people's time." I mean, she DOES have a Ph.D., she just got it from an unaccredited university and didn't do any work to get it.

I just think there's a difference between "I have a bronze star for valor and I was the last guy out of Saigon, and I invented wool." And "I have a Ph.D. that I did nothing to get from a school that has all the academic rigor of a wet noodle."

I think she got her just desserts, myself.

[User Picture]
From:halfflat
Date:January 19th, 2005 05:03 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Why is it that there is this proportional relation between incompetence and belligerent arrogance in computer systems admin? Does it hold generally?

Can think of at least one prominent example from an engineering department at a certain university.
[User Picture]
From:hnpcc
Date:January 19th, 2005 10:46 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It's not just in computer systems admin. At least not in my experience. I take it as covering the fact that they're scared people will find out that they're actually crap. Ignoring that we all know already.

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