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Paper busts buyers of bogus degrees

The Spokesman-Review has begun outing people who bought bogus degrees from a diploma mill based in Spokane, Wash. The Justice Department, meanwhile, refuses to release the list of almost 10,000 buyers to the public. A source familiar with the list says, “There are people in high places with these degrees, and only one of them has been charged with a crime.”

The paper has done a preliminary analysis of degree buyers, and so far 135 have ties to the military, 39 work for educational institutions, and 17 workfor the federal government. Some examples of higher-ups in government and industry making over their resumes: William R. Church, a senior military advisor who works in the White House, bought a phony master’s degree in business administration. Duwayne Huss, an employee of Nuclear Management Co., which runs two nuclear plants in Minnesota, bought his degree in nuclear engineering. NASA employee Timothy Francis Gorman bought a fake degree in electrical engineering, and over at the U.S. Department of Health, oncology expert Frank S. Govern bought a doctorate in health care administration. 

Eight people who operated the diploma mill have been indicted and convicted of federal crimes, and the ring leader, Dixie Ellen Randock, a 58-year-old high school dropout, was sentenced to three years in prison. Compared to the real thing that takes years of hard work and can cost well over $100,000,the bogus degrees were delivered fast and cheap. Bonita E. Broyles, author of books about prescription dosages and nursing care, bought her doctorate in education for just $2,225; Brett C. Jarmin, who worked as a police chief in Edgemont, S.D., bought his bachelor of science degree in criminology for $1, 041. There was also a school district superintendent who bought a fake doctorate in Columbus, Ohio, and a Saudi Arabian who bought several degrees in gynecology and obstetrics. The Saudi Arabian is Remah Moustafa Ahmed Kamel, 42, and he may be practicing medicine in his home country. One buyer apparently became addicted to ersatz higher education, buying the most gold-edged certificates so far: Anthony McGugan of Barnegat, N.J., spent $24, 088 on 16 different degrees that range from Christian education to addiction and youth counseling.

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HCN in the outhouses of the West

From my Alaska trip: I flew into a small town that is not reachable by road, then hopped on a motorboat and drove across lakes and rivers for 2.5 hours to reach the scientists' camp way out in the boondocks -- out there they have a few rough cabins and a generator that makes electricity only in the evening and two outhouses -- and lo and behold, for reading material in the outhouses they have issues of the Economist magazines and HCN -- amazing to discover HCN readers way out there!

Ray Ring, HCN Senior Editor