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A Second PHD Fraud?


Adding grist to the mill for those of us who suspect our politicians have outsourced governing to underqulified professionals, news from breakingnews.ie and practically everywhere else suggests a second big-wig government adviser has attained a PhD from a diploma mill. I didnt get all that involved in the last debacle, others were far better qualified to commentate on it and it seemed a politically isolated event. It seems that this outbreak of PhD purchasing is not confined to Barry MacSweeney at all.

Reports this morning said Dr Con Power, the chair of the Financial Services Ombudsman Council, had obtained a PhD from Pacific Western University, which is regarded as a so-called "degree mill".

This morning's reports said he was insisting that his PhD was legally awarded on the basis of many years of research and publications.

Ah so did Barry and I am pretty sure that not many of us will take this one seriously as a reply either. If the government are outsourcing work and power to intellectual frauds with pseudo-qualifications, what hope have we of changing anything? These men are not all, perhaps not slightly, to blame for some of this governments worst performances in delivery of everything, preservation and resucitation of the helath service, etc. etc., however that many of them can congregate at the top with no worries about degrees or quality, we should be worried.

Its a dangerous way to carry out government and I worry this isnt the last we will hear of intellectual frauds attaining top adviser positions in government. The whole role of advisers is deeply vexing to a system built on Civil Servant integrity and capability. Perhaps this is another opportunity to enhance our democracy for the government to pass up.


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  1. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:07 a.m. |  

    Comment from Dr Con Power.
    My Doctoral Degrees – Summary Position

    This summary briefing note is prepared to rebut serious and unfounded allegations in recent news media articles. The allegations related to earned doctoral degrees awarded in 1988 and 1990 by Pacific Western University, Los Angeles, California.

    1 Degree has always been on the public record. Con Power’s PhD [October 1988] from Pacific Western University [PWU] has been a matter of public record since the Press Release on 17th October 1988 issued by his then employer, the Confederation of Irish Industry [now IBEC]. The Irish Independent in its edition of Tuesday 18th October 1988 covered the story, including naming PWU, referring to its status as an institution authorised by the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of California, and referring to the substantial body of work that Con Power submitted
    for the award of the PhD in Business Administration. The story was also covered at the time by at least five other news media entities. No new revelation was, therefore, contained in the Irish Independent article of Friday 18th November 2005, and that news article followed a lengthy interview given by telephone to the Irish Independent on Wednesday 16th November and a significant body of information sent to the Irish Independent by e-mail that evening. There was nothing new or novel in the information given, contrary to the sensationalist and misleading impression given by the headline.

    2 Never a “top adviser” to the Government. Con Power is not and never was an “adviser” or a “top adviser” to any Government, Government Minister, Minister of State, or to any politician. Contrary to the impression given by the Irish Independent in a spurious attempt to link Con Power to a story relating to the Government’s Chief Science Adviser, Con Power’s career involvements in the public service were always as an officer at a public service desk. Furthermore, all of Con Power’s career appointments in both the public and the private sectors were obtained through open competition in response to public advertisements.
    Incidentally, Con Power is now retired from all executive posts, he is age almost 67 years, and is involved in only a few non-executive activities, one of which is as non-executive Chairperson of the Financial services Ombudsman Council.

    3 Con Power’s PhD never a factor in obtaining employment. The possession of a PhD has never been a factor throughout Con Power’s employment career. His final career appointment, obtained in public competition, was that of Economic Policy Director with the Confederation of Irish Industry [now IBEC], and this post was obtained in 1979, a full nine years prior to the award of the PhD [in 1988].

    4 PWU is and was approved under the California Education Code. When Con Power was awarded his PhD in 1988, Pacific Western University [PWU] was a regulated provider of degree-granting education services pursuant to California Education Code [CEC], Section 94310.3. This was confirmed to Con Power in a letter dated 15th March 1989 that he received from the California State Department of Education, Private Postsecondary Education Division. Currently in 2005, PWU is a State-approved institution by the California Postsecondary Education Commission [CPEC], and five degrees awarded by PWU, including the PhD in Business Administration, are approved for consumer protection purposes by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education [BPPVE], part of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. Any question about the status of PWU is, therefore, a matter for the California Department of Education and related agencies, and is not something for which an individual consumer of education services who dealt with PWU in good faith between 1986 and 1990 [19 to 15 years ago] should now be pilloried.

    5 Con Power submitted a substantial body of work for his PhD. Con Power’s PhD was earned after completion of a rigorous programme that comprised six elements. The first three elements related primarily to report writing, data collection, and data analysis & management. The fourth element was submission of his Qualifying Exercise entitled “Ireland’s Strategic National Roads Network – A Key to Economic Development”, that was subsequently published. The fifth element was submission of a Research Proposal that was supported by Con Power’s then 190 published articles and 7 published research reports. The sixth and final element was Con Power’s thesis or Demonstration of Professional Expertise [DPE], together with a research Summary. The title of Con Power’s thesis was “The Environment for Enterprise”, and this covered in an integrated manner selected aspects of the legislative, regulatory, fiscal, and administrative environment within which business in Ireland operated. Con Power has named the two academics who assessed his work, and he gave details of their qualifications.

    6 Con Power’s post-doctoral work that led to a DBA. After the award of the PhD, Con Power continued as a post-doctoral student with PWU. He was awarded the degree of Doctor of Business Administration [DBA] in August 1990. His Qualifying Exercise for the award of the DBA was “Health Promotion in the Workplace”, and his thesis was “People Development – The Business Dimension”. This was supported by a further 70 published articles by Con Power. He has named the academic who assessed his work for the DBA, and he has given details of the qualifications of that academic.

    7 Con Power’s other earned academic & professional qualifications. In addition to the two earned Doctorates from PWU, Con Power’s academic and professional qualifications are – BComm [Hons – UCD – 1963], MEconSc [Hons – UCD – 1965], FCIS [Associate 1964 & Fellow 1975], FCMA [Associate 1970 & Fellow 1975], and FCCA [1980].

    8 Con Power’s public service has been primarily “pro bono”. In addition to Con Power’s career appointments from 1963 onwards, that are a matter of public record, he served on a total of 25 State Bodies in Ireland, the EU, and OECD. Only 2 of the 25 carried modest fees as Chairperson, and all other 23 were unpaid and “pro bono”. Con Power has also served in an unpaid and “pro bono” capacity on a total of 16 committees of various professional bodies and learned societies.

    29th November 2005

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