Shrewd businessmen are buying degrees from degree mills and passing themselves off as “Dr” so-and-so.
Straits Times journalist Sandra Davie even managed to buy a degree for her dog! (ST, August 29, 2008).
Yes, Harry Doggy the cute beagle is now officially a “Doctor of Arts”. For just US$599.
Other people spent years slogging to get a PhD and “Dr” Harry didn’t even move a
finger paw to be conferred a doctorate.
So who are the famous people in Singapore with degrees that are similar to “Dr” Harry Doggy’s? Straits Times mentioned the following:
- Expressions International founder “Dr” Theresa Chew.
- Bread Talk founder “Dr” George Quek.
- “Dr” T. Chandroo who runs 60 Montessori kindergartens.
- “Dr” Clemen Chiang who runs options trading seminars.
I remember Clemen Chiang even called his degree-mill alma mata “the prestigious Preston University” in his ads. Now, we all know Preston is a virtual university that gives out PhDs freely for a fee.
What’s worse is that Clemen Chiang is also “widely quoted in the local press”, including the Business Times (see example). Given BT’s past record of uncovering at least one case of people who lied / misled about their credentials (see discussion about the famous Dennis Lee case and article in Time magazine), I don’t know why BT did not do more diligence and still invited “Dr” Chiang to write in its columns.
More from the very enlightening ST article:
“Mr Chiang sheepishly admits that he continues to use his doctorate as it helps to pave the way in business… But he added: ‘But I am thinking of dropping my doctorate title altogether until I complete the current PhD I am working on with the University of South Australia.’ “
Er… which University of South Australia is he referring to? Let’s hope it’s the legitimate one and not another degree mill.
Update (6 Sep 2008): Preston wrote to ST and took up a full-page ad announcing the “factual errors” in that ST article and “superficial” research done by ST. Nothing surprising – they’re just protecting their business interests. In the same vein, T. Chandroo also wrote to ST Forum and wished for people to understand his “disappointment”. The ST editor retorted:
“For over a month, Mr Chandroo’s secretary said he was ‘too busy’ to answer e-mails or calls… Preston University is not accredited by any US Department of Education-recognised accrediting body. The state of Oregon refers to Preston University as a ‘degree supplier’ and has named it on its list of unapproved schools… In 2001, the US-based Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Preston University had listed faculty members who had nothing to do with the institution (a fact later admitted by Preston)…”