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  1. #1
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    Default Western States University - Diploma Mill for Fire Chiefs?

    I am interested in Western States University. I was made aware of a Chief in the southern part of the country who apparently obtained a Bachelors and Masters degree in a remarkably short period of time via "Western States University". I have searched and asked the DOE if it is accreditted or not and no one can find where it is?

    Not knocking this "School" but if a person gets a job based on an otherwise phony degree what message does that send. If you are going to call yourself educated and preach to others, should your degree be from a college that exists?

    Any thoughts on this and anyone know about the place? I looked it up and it seems, well, a little "Non-traditional" if you know what I mean. Anxious to hear replys to this.

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    Thanks to those who have sent me information on this via email. I am in a state of shock, to say the least.

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    Default

    C'mon, box, share it with the rest of us. I'm dying to know about this place. One of our chiefs in DC (no, not a Georgia import) just received a Ph.D. from Western States University, and I would love to know how legitimate it is.

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    Apparently it is a non-traditional institution. You submit a detailed resume' and the money and they review it. You are then issued a degree. I can not find it listed as accredited in Missouri or the region. I visited the site and it says it has a campus, but no onsite classes or detailed program of study. If you do have a Bachelors or advanced degree the PHD is, according to one person who IM'd me, a gimme. Thats his opinion, not mine, but this looks phony to me.

    I don't know what to make of it to be honest. It is certainly not on par with state or private universities like Georgetown, George Mason, or UVA.

    Why would you open yourself up like that? I mean the guys from Georgia lied on their resume's and that is terrible, but if you received a degree that is less than that of another comparable university and it helps you gain a promotion that is certainly questionable.

    All in all I am going to drop it because the number of people in the fire service with advanced degree's from there is staggering. However you take someone who has earned a 2 or 4 year degree from a college and fights like hell to get time off to work on a Masters and some guy comes along with a degree from a college that is not accredited and it makes you wonder? This has disillusioned me greatly and that is damn hard.

    What a sham and a shame.

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    One of the more well-known fire service "Western States University" PhD grads in none other than Firehouse's own Harry Carter. Mr. Car.. Oh, I mean Dr. Carter characterizes WSU as something along the lines of "non-traditional, non-accredited, distance program..." which I guess is accurate.
    If a program is not regionally accredited or accredited by let's say ABET for engineering programs, it can probably be just about anything for a "program" and who is to know what that is.
    I like those DC "Chiefs" - the next thing we will hear is "I had lunch at the school one afternoon, so I thought I was enrolled in a BS/MS/PhD program..." It's great, they all used the same line.

    The INS sending approved student visas to the 9/11 terrorists and our nation's capital FD, un- or at least poorly qualified leadership collecting fat checks as buddies of the Chief. What a shame.

  6. #6
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    Really? I had no idea that this University was so wide spread in the fire service. Harry Carter, too? WOW.

    How sad is that?

    There are some quality programs for distance learning...example the George Washington University EMS degree. I can't believe that so many people would fall for this place. A degree from a non-accredited school is useless in the "real world". People can smell them a mile away. I am amazed that the Fire Service and the cities that hire these guys haven't picked up on them.

    What kind of HR people do they have working for them? I mean I can take less than 15 minutes to find a school on the net, find where it SHOULD be accredited, and check to see if it actually is accredited. BAM! Done in less than a 1/2 hour.

    Unbelievable.
    " The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." - Samuel Johnson

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    I am very upset that I brought the whole thing up. I did not believe that there would be so many, nor did I envision any names being used. I simply responded to a message sent to me from someone whom I do not know. Though I have to say that Dr. Carter I DID NOT know about, I am aware that other chiefs have used this place. I am ashamed.

    Some of the people that I look up to most have ridden this rail and now, in good conscious, I can not defend them. I suppose in their eyes I am public enemy number 1 now and that was confirmed by a nasty gram this am.

    What a sham and a shame, again.

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    Default

    Hey dont be upset that you brought out the truth. sometime the truth isnt very pretty but at least its the truth and in my book thats always better than a hlf-truth. Im glad you started the thread.

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    Unhappy

    Box...no need to be upset for bringing up this farce. I had no idea it existed, although I have seen time and time again junk email about getting such "degrees". I guess I was too naive to think that someone would actually use something of this nature to get to the top of our profession. After our DC brethren were exposed for their degrees from UCH (University of Carl Holmes)I guess nothing should shock us about how some people will go to whatever lengths to pad their resumes to climb the ladder.

    While boxalarm apologizes for bringing this matter up....we should thank him for bringing it to everyones attention. It's about time this scam was exposed.

    Box...imagine that...you and I have actually agreed on something!

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    Default Farewell for the Box

    Box...imagine that...you and I have actually agreed on something!
    I just wished it could have been on another issue.

    I have sent for the school information and I am assuming that it will arrive in a week or so.

    here is my dilemma.

    Lets say that person A is working on an advanced degree, going to classes, advancing a thesis, all the while working, supporting the family, busting their hump. That persona will have earned a degree.

    Person B, for whatever reason, has a BA or whatever, sends in to this school, provides detailed resume, etc. and perhaps write a thesis, though it would not be comparable to one at Maryland or NYU or anywhere. Then suppose that person uses that degree to jump ahead of the other guy. Isn't that akin, in some way, morally, to what the DC chiefs did with their resume's. Perhaps not, maybe I am making it too simplistic. However it stinks and when it smells then there is an odor.

    While I had no idea that it was widespread and while I am already receiving some nasty grams, should it be looked at further. If so I will turn it over to a respected journalist. I am in no way capable of writing this up because the very people that I have called inspirations are part of this...whatever you want to call it.

    I am actually closing the Box Alarm because I feel that by embracing many of these people and respecting them for the hard work they have done, I have cheapened the website. I should have been more responsible in selecting people for others to read about. I also found out that psuedo journalism is not for me. Its probably hard to understand but I am shocked. Period.
    I will close it effective 4pm today. Thanks to all those who visited and provided tom and I countless hours of enjoyment.

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    Default

    Those who have sent information thanks a lot. I have enough now and am closing out my portion of it.

    God Bless America.

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    Default More research

    I am going to research this tomorrow and post my thoughts. I have them now but I want to make sure I have all of the facts.

    I hope it's not true.


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    I hope it's not true.
    As did I. One person compares the Western States University to the University of Maryland in that they both offer credits for life experience. However, the University of Maryland is a fully accredited school. To earn a PHD there takes time and much labor. This person also points out that he has taken many NFA and other courses. Thats true, but does it mean your entitled to a title and degree that puts you at the forefront of the fire service. Most firefighters could give Two ****s about a chief with a PHD but those who hire, promote, and those on the outside look at these people as spokesman for the fire service who are learned. Now this will be exposed and it is a blow to the fire service. To me it is self serving. He also points out that his Bachelors and Masters were attained from "traditional" colleges. BRAVO. Then why not obtain a PHD via the same route. No time is probably an answer. Then be proud of what you have as opposed to garnering something that is, at best, questionable. Technically right is good in law but not in common ethics and morality.

    Last night I spoke with someone with a PHD from there and he said that it was a farce and he doesn't put it on his resume, nor does he call himself Dr. Why? He said that it is not "acquired". He said he does have a great deal of experience, over 29 years, and he works for one of the 3 busiest departments, but he is more proud of his Bachelors degree that was earned while working.

    My last post on the subject. Period.

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    Unhappy

    From the archives of ctnow.com from 1999. Before anyone responds to me, remember that I did not write a single word of it. You'd have to pay for the whole article:

    FIREFIGHTERS WITH BOGUS DIPLOMAS
    Published on March 3, 1999, Article 2 of 6 found.
    Nobody involved in the controversy over Hartford firefighters' buying college credits from a diploma mill is facing the issue squarely.


    Since 1985, the city has paid thousands of dollars in incentive pay to firefighters who submitted transcripts from a correspondence school in Missouri that lacks accreditation. The firefighters did not have to do course work to get the credits from Western States University. The city halted the gravy train Feb. 13, and a criminal investigation is under

    View Article | Archives Home | Help | ctnow.com


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    FIRE OFFICIALS' DEGREES IN CLASS OF THEIR OWN
    Published on March 2, 1999, Article 3 of 6 found.
    Imagine the class reunions at Western States University.


    Can't you just see the alums gathering around the bar singing old school songs and recollecting, wistfully:

    ``My time at WSU was the best five minutes of my life!!!''

    Five minutes? We'd be happy for five minutes. Certainly the Hartford Fire Department -- increasingly, the Keystone Kops of fire brigades -- would appreciate a few academic fingerprints on the sheepskins some of its key officials use to squeeze

    View Article | Archives Home | Help | ctnow.com


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ONE WAY TO QUELL THE BLAZE IN FIRE RANKS
    Published on March 1, 1999, Article 4 of 6 found.
    I offer this solution to douse the burning accusations of fraud inside and outside the Hartford fire department:


    Drop the criminal investigation into whether 15 firefighters defrauded the city by claiming degrees from a ``university'' with dubious credentials. Ditto for the police probe into whether chief Bob Dobson intentionally cheated the city by moonlighting at his wife's business when he should have been at work.

    The firefighters say their contract didn't specify

    View Article | Archives Home | Help | ctnow.com


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    FOR A FEE, SHORTCUT TO A DEGREE

    FIREFIGHTERS SEIZE CHANCE TO COLLECT INCENTIVE PAY
    Published on February 27, 1999, Article 5 of 6 found.
    Since 1985 the city has paid thousands of dollars in college-incentive pay to firefighters who submitted transcripts from a notorious correspondence school in Missouri whose credits are not accepted by legitimate colleges.


    The city on Feb. 13 cut off the incentive pay to anyone with a transcript from Western States University of Doniphan, Mo., after a fire captain submitted his master's degree from WSU seven days after he submitted his bachelor's.

    Now, as police begin a fraud

    View Article | Archives Home | Help | ctnow.com


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    DOBSON FACING FRAUD INQUIRY

    CITY FIRE CHIEF UNDER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
    Published on February 24, 1999, Article 6 of 6 found.
    In an apparent change of heart, city officials Tuesday called in police to investigate whether Fire Chief Robert E. Dobson committed fraud or larceny by spending weekday afternoons at his private business in Bloomfield.


    On Friday, after suspending the chief for three weeks and ordering him to pay back $3,700 worth of compensatory time, City Manager Saundra Kee Borges said it was not her role to refer the Dobson case to police.

    Her decision was criticized by Hartford taxpayers and by a

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    Exclamation

    here is another school like this:

    Lacrosse university, and here is the website so you can look at just how bogus this really is.

    http://www.lacrosseuniversity.com/terms.html

    You too can have a Doctorate degree in Fire Science in just 14 months, and they claim this place is accredited, but by who?






    And as for life experience with actual accredited schools you can only get about 10-15 credits that way and have to challenge the test for a certain class, it is very difficult to do.

    This school you can submit a resume or whatever and they can give you to 105 credits toward a 120-credit degree. So you can have a B.S. in a year. I wonder whom we can write to about this so this place can be shut down. Why the hell should I continue working on my degree if someone else can just buy one?

    Who ever does this should be ashamed of themselves. But I guess their Ego isn't present and they let their Id control their lives <--- something I learned from actually sitting in a classroom !!!!
    Last edited by ggtruckie; 03-21-2002 at 06:59 PM.

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    I believe the Distance Education and Training Council (www.detc.org) is the only agency recognized by the US Dept of Education or The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (www.chea.org) to accredit correspondence type programs. I don't see either Western States or Larcosse Univ listed on the DETC site. If a distance program is not part of a regionally accredited school or by DETC, good chance it is a diploma mill.
    Sad thing is, there seems to be quite a demand for these diploma mills and it seems they have a fair amount of fire service customers.

  17. #17
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    Default

    I started not to comment on this forum....but then decided I could not resist.

    Dr. Harry Carter is a very well educated and very well respected man.

    Until theboxalarm made this post and someone mentioned where he got his degree, NO ONE ever questioned Harry Carters credentials. It seems as if theboxalarm enjoys stirring up a controversy and keeping the members of the fire community sizzling about something. He must be a politician....

    I wonder how many well respected and outstanding fire service leaders are in the same boat that Dr. Carter is in???? How many of them have a similar degree and are outstanding Fire Chief's and Administrators????

    It just proves what I have always said. I respect those who go to school and achieve a degree.....but...you do not have to have a degree to be an effective fire service leader. Sure...It many help you scholastically, but nothing replaces training and experience in the field. In my old department, I was rejected for a promotional position test because I did not have a degree. The announcement said, "experience and educataion equivalent to", so I assumed that over 300 working days in an acting Battalion Chief position plus the college that I did have and 15 years of experience, including 2 as a volunteer Fire Chief would be "equivalent".......NOT! When I questioned the Chief she basically told me that I was qualified to do it as an acting BC, but not get paid for it because I had no degree.

    Administrators and the like need to read between the lines here. It should be obvious from the performance and accomplishments of Dr. Carter and others like him, that while a degree is nice...the type of degree they are "requiring" is not the sole contributing factor in the performance of a leader. Less weight should be put on this during promotional exams, and hiring process. Instead of requiring a degree, make it preferred. Judge people on their proven skills, not a piece of paper!!!!!

    Leaders are born not made by degrees!
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Default

    I, too, am a huge fan of Harry Carter's. He is one of the most rational, fair, reasonable voices in the fire service. He is the conscience that many fire chiefs do not have.

    That is not the point of theboxalarm. If Harry Carter did in fact receive a Ph.D. from a bogus outfit, and uses those letters to append his written name, then he is guilty. It has little to do with his ability as a fire chief or leader. Using a suspect degree calls into question the integrity of the individual who does so.

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    Default WSU

    Guys, heres some info from WSU's Student Catalog:
    Accreditatioin: The Program is accredited by the Accrediting Commission International. Many of the degree candidates are from outside the United States. In view of the situtation, the school has sought and received intrenational accredition. Their last physical site inspection and evaluation was in Dec. 1999. Fire, Safety, and Loss Control degree programs of the WSU for Porfessional Studies are, as of Feb 1987 accredited and endorsed by the World Orginization which is in Consultative Status ( Non-Governmental Organization ) to the United Nations.
    Authorization: WSU awards degrees under existing laws, regulation, rules, statutes, etc., encompassing the activities of private non-residential postsecondary and graduate universities located in the State of Missouri. WSU for professional Studies is currently located and incorpated in the State of Missouri. WSU for Professional Studies is authorized to " operate a private experiential alternative postsecondary university awarding Bachelor, Master, Doctorate degrees under the rules and regulations of the University of Missouri". It has, as of January 1986, been granted permission to continue to operate in the State of Missouri, by the Missouri Coordinating Board of Higher Education.
    I'm NOT in this program, just providing more info. fair and balanced, you make the call.
    My parting question is this. Just because WSU is NOT one of the top notch Universities with a fire science progrma ( UofMD or UofOklahoma)
    does it mean its not good to have a degree from it.
    Secondly, I quit the UofMD fire science program because it was too hard and Xfered to the University of the District of Columbia, much easer program, same degree just a whole lot easer and thousands and thousands of dollars cheaper. Thank-you.

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    Default Accreditation vs. accreditation

    L36MAN -

    Part of the diploma mill industry is to utilized accrediting bodies that mean nothing.

    cilfd made a very important point, the Distance Education and Training Council (www.detc.org) is the ONLY accrediting agency used by the U. S. Department of Education. While state governments may accredit programs (usually to authorize payments for federal job-training programs,) the only academic accreditation that means anything are the regional and national United States accreditation organizations.

    For more information on what accreditation means for higher education, check out any of John Bear's annual guides to distance and/or non-traditional education.

    By itself, obtaining a degree from a non-accredited institution is not a horrible thing. Unless it is used to fradulently obtain compensation (the CT example in this message thread) or promotion.

    Having an advanced degree does not mean you are an advanced person. . . or a better fire chief/officer/firefighter.

    Mike

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    By itself, obtaining a degree from a non-accredited institution is not a horrible thing. Unless it is used to fradulently obtain compensation (the CT example in this message thread) or promotion.
    I agree with that but would you refer to yourself as Doctor and plaster it all over your website if you had "bought" your phd? Not that I've seen any examples of this anywhere.
    _________DILLIGAF

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    Angry Insecurity and lack of self esteem are ....

    the reasons someone would "buy" a bogus degree. Let's face the facts; a degree is something that is awarded following completion of a set curriculm in which the student has demonstrated mastery in the subject(s). I have a Bachelor's of Science degree because I completed my area of study and demonstrated the required competencies. My intent for attending college was not to be able to use the acronyms B.S. or F.P.E. following my name but rather it was to learn a profession. What does a person "buy" by filling out some paperwork and submitting a check to some institute of "higher learning" to "earn" a degree which does not result in the individual being any smarter or more knowlegable in the subject.

    One the otherhand, I have great respect for people who learn through work or life experiences and subsequently achieve licensure or certification through examination. A good example are people who earn the Professional Engineering licenses after working for 15-20 years and learning the profession eventhough they may not have a degree(or at least an accredited one). This practice at least requires one to demonstarte proficiency in the subject area.

    Employers need to be able to compare apples-to-apples. I believe that there is somewhat of a common understanding of what a B.S., M.S. or Phd requires as far as effort. To advertise yourself as having degree, especially graduate level one, without having met this standard is an insult to everyone who has worked their butt off to really achieve one. My heart goes out to the large number of people who actually have worked their butts off to attempt to earn a degree only to find it too challenging or worse yet having to quit to support their family ! They could have easily sent their check for $1000 to these loser clubs as well but they didn't!


    Joe

  23. #23
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    Angry Dang!

    Why do I always miss out on the easy way? I could hang it in the "library" and admire it while I'm doing my best work!
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
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    Default Let's expose the posers

    BOXALARM,
    Please post the nasty e-mails you recieved. I believe that will only strengthen the point of this thread topic.

    Anyone with one of those $20.00 mail order degrees who isn't hiding under the bed please feel free to send me an e-mail (jpechace@twcny.rr.com) explaining why you believe you have actually earned anything !

    Joe

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    It seems as if theboxalarm enjoys stirring up a controversy and keeping the members of the fire community sizzling about something. He must be a politician
    Stan,

    I think that is an unfair description. Once I found out about Harry, I quit posting about it. However it does not make it untrue, does it?

    I can not be a determining factor on whether the university is "bogus". I can only say that many fire service veterans who have "earned" a degree seem to be upset. So be it. It is out of my hands but the fire service will take a black eye and it will not be because of me. I merely brought it up after I was contacted about a Chief in Georgia. I am not responsible for who has these degree's. That is their choice, to use it however they like.

    I expect fierce reaction form Carter, et al and the people that like him. That is fine. I personally have had a great warm friendship with him. i DID NOT know about this. That is a fact.

    God Bless all.

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