Tuesday, January 17, 2006

CPC Linda West touts mail-order PhD

Over the weekend there was a story in the Winnipeg Free Press (quoted at POGGE, whom I hattip) questioning the academic credentials of Linda West, Conservative candidate in Winnipeg. Her webpage lists her academic achievements thus, "RN, BA, MBA, CHE, Ph.D.", specifying further down the page that her Doctor of Philosophy in Health Administration is from "Washington University".

The Free Press pointed out that "Dr." West's degree was not from Washington University in St. Louis, but from Washington International University, an unaccredited university in the USA.

When this was brought-up in the CBC Forum for Elmwood Transcona, West herself made an appearance and clarified matters:
In the mid to late 1990s I was involved in a project to improve rural health care by strengthening rural ER services. It involved having care providers having a real say in what was done. I wanted to measure and study the results. It was the ideal thesis material.

I approached the UofM and other Canadian Universities all of whom would accept me only if I quite work. If I quite work I would lose my access to the data – talk about a rock and a hard spot.

The University of Washington, as it was called when I attended is a degree granting institution in the United States and when I graduated it provided my with a diploma that was notarized by the state.
I'm not sure where to begin here. First, it is a little disconcerting that West does not even know the name of the institution that she attended. It is not 'Washington University', as in her website, nor the 'University of Washington' (another fairly good real university: see here), as she calls it here.

Perhaps we should not be surprised that West could be confused about the name. It is, after all, hardly a large institution. Indeed, its webpage lists its seven faculty members, only two of whom hold PhDs (see here). This is beyond miniscule. For comparison, Ontario has a 'rule of 10' which requires that university departments must have 10 faculty members in order to offer a PhD degree. That an entire university has only seven faculty members is beyond derision.

Nor is the program at Washington International University very rigorous. On their webpage here they tell us that:
Your extensive work experience, specialized training received and professional knowledge in your field eliminates the need for core materials
And elsewhere we learn that
All accelerated degree programs are designed to be completed within one year.
So West spent one year, part-time, on her "PhD". For comparison, a PhD at a real University (like the real Washington University in St. Louis, or the University of Washington in Seattle) is typically five years of full-time work. This is why earning a PhD is in itself a considerable achievement, which is in turn why people like West want to have one. It is a grueling process.


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