Three recent news stories from the world of higher education serve as reminders of the old adage, "Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see."
An investigation by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences recently found that Leslie Berlowitz, former president of the nonprofit honor society, had repeatedly lied on grant applications about having a doctorate degree, among other improprieties.
Steve Masiello, the Manhattan College men’s basketball coach, was also placed on leave after the University of South Florida discovered he had lied on his résumé about graduating from college. South Florida was about to hire Masiello, but rescinded its offer. Manhattan is now allowing him to keep his job, provided he completes his degree.
The University of South Florida is one of several Florida schools paying top dollar to headhunting firms, in part to thwart résumé fraudsters. The school paid $160,000 to the search firm that helped hire its new medical school dean, $100,000 to the firm that helped hire its new athletic director, and $60,000 to the firm that uncovered Masiello’s false claim.
These stories are probably good for business at executive search firms, and the brazenness of public figures who maintain false claims about their education and work histories is difficult to believe. Here are 6 of the more notable résumé fraudsters in recent memory:
1. Dawood Farahi
Kean University President Dawood Farahi acknowledged that mistakes were made on his résumé, but they weren’t his mistakes. Among the inaccuracies: that he had been acting academic dean at Avila College in Missouri and had published "over 50 technical articles in major publications," according to The Star-Ledger. Farahi said university staff members were to blame, as they prepared his résumé to be submitted for accreditation reviews in 1994, 2001, and 2008. He faced attacks from critics, including Kean faculty, over his résumé issues, but survived an investigation by the school’s board of trustees, which voted to retain him in February 2013.
2. Alexander Kemos
Alexander Kemos, senior vice president for administration at Texas A&M University, resigned in 2010 after admitting to lying about his academic and military record. Kemos falsely claimed to have a doctoral degree from Tufts University in Medford, Mass., and to have served as a Navy SEAL. Kemos pled guilty to using a fictitious educational degree and was fined $2,000.
3. Michael Brown
Michael Brown was fired as head of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2005 after bungling FEMA’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Later that year, Time magazine reported Brown had lied about serving as assistant city manager, overseeing emergency services for Edmund, Okla., from 1975 to 1978, when he actually was an administrative assistant with no management authority. He also falsely claimed to win the “Outstanding Political Science Professor” at Central State University in Oklahoma, when in reality he was only a student at the school. And he falsely claimed to have been a director of the Oklahoma Christian Home nursing home in Edmond, Time reported.
4. Marilee Jones
Marilee Jones, dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, resigned in 2007 and admitted to lying about her academic degrees for her 28-year career at MIT. According to the New York Times, she had claimed degrees from Albany Medical College, Union College, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, but she actually had no degrees from anywhere.
5. Elizabeth Warren
Whether you believe U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., lied on her résumé may depend on your political persuasion. Warren’s one-time claim to Native American ancestry became an issue in the 2012 senate race, which she won handily. Warren, who has fair skin and blue eyes, listed herself as a minority in a legal directory used by recruiters to make diversity-friendly hires for 10 years, until 1995, when she became a full professor at Harvard University. Harvard continued to label her as a Native American for at least six years, and she did nothing to correct that perception, according to the Boston Globe. She never proved that she had a Native American ancestor, but said she based her belief on family lore.
6. Quincy Troupe
Quincy Troupe, a creative writing and literature professor at the University of California at San Diego, resigned as poet laureate of California in 2002 after admitting to lying on his résumé about graduating from college. Within two months, he was also forced to resign from his professor’s position. Troupe had attended Grambling College, but had not graduated. He was the first official poet laureate of California, holding the position for only four months, and had worked at San Diego for 11 years.
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