Paul L. Caron

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Enron Meets Academia: Altered Grades, Manufactured Transcripts, And Store-Bought Diplomas

Harvey Gilmore (Monroe College), Enron Meets Academia ... Altered Grades, Manufactured Transcripts, and Store-Bought Diplomas, 19 Fla. Coastal L. Rev. 567 (2019):

As Enron and Bernie Madoff once showed us the depths that people will go to hide who they really are, there are many others out there who have created entire academic profiles... and even careers... under false pretenses. This is the story of only a few of them.

People going into professional life with phony credentials are more pervasive . . . and potentially dangerous . . . than people might realize. Imagine a contractor, after submitting the lowest bid to win a bridge construction contract (that is another story in and of itself), hires an engineer to oversee the bridge building operation. How would the public at large feel about the safety of the bridge once it discovers that the engineer who built the bridge pulled an Adam Wheeler and bluffed his way through engineering school? Or purchased an engineering degree without ever taking an engineering class? Or imagine a medical patient going to her gynecologist for what she hopes to  be a routine medical exam only to find out her doctor really is not one?

These, in addition to the stories discussed above, are but a few of the instances of parties who wrongfully passed off their phony credentials as legitimate. The harm that such phony credentials as legitimate. The harm that such phony credentials inflict is quite palpable. Flashing phony credentials is far from a victimless crime. The academic victims of Bowdoin, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, and Cornell are proof of that. In addition to the academic victims of credential fraud, let us not forget countless other victims: clients, patients, and employers who were unfortunately taken in by the smooth-talking con artist. In addition to those students who would have rightfully been admitted in to Bowdoin, Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, and the rest were robbed of that opportunity by academic fraudsters like Adam Wheeler and Cayva Chandra. In this atmosphere of taking short cuts and getting something for nothing, due diligence is everything! Thus, it is more imperative than ever for admissions offices, potential employers, and those who would invite guest speakers to confirm that people are who they say they are. This will save a lot of embarrassment and angst for all concerned.

Finally, keep in mind that for every individual that claims phony credentials, there are those of us who did the legitimate work to earn our degrees. Our grades and degrees are legitimately ours and we claim ownership of them. When anyone asks us to verify our credentials, we have nothing to prove, and more important, even less to hide! Truth is always one's best defense. I'll say it again: an honest "C" is far better than a dishonest "A".

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Sounds nice but fudging admissions, at least, is standard university sports recruiting, social engineering and financial policy.

Better to focus on measuring what one knows and can do (however learned).

Posted by: Anand Desai | Feb 21, 2020 5:52:40 AM