Another fraudster exposed, faculty-types unsurprised.

Via Inside Higer Ed, we learn that Doug E. Lynch, the vice dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, has resigned because he falsely claimed to have a doctoral degree from Columbia University. (This was not discovered by anyone at Penn–no, the Philadelphia Inquirer started sniffing around, and used the daring and controversial investigative journalism technique known as making a phone call to Columbia to confirm his credentials.)

Now, any scrub ABD or recent Ph.D. out there who has applied for an Assistant Professor or even VAP position knows that we must submit our transcripts as a routine part of our job application.  Why not at the administrative level? I wonder.

Or, rather, no I don’t. Keep reading the Inky story, and you find this little tidbit:

Since joining Penn, Lynch had been a lightning rod for controversy. He had pushed entrepreneurial methods and supported programs such as Teach for America, which puts bright college graduates who lack education degrees in some of the nation’s toughest public schools for a two-year commitment.

This $hit just writes itself, doesn’t it?  What a douche. But let’s not waste too much time or sympathy on “Dr.” Lynch: I’m sure he’ll find a comfy and well-compensated niche at one of our many fine for-profit subprime colleges and universities (h/t to commenter That’s Grantastic for the fabulous rebranding!)

20 thoughts on “Another fraudster exposed, faculty-types unsurprised.

  1. Bummer for Penn. Though unclear to me from the article if he is faculty or admin staff — there are comments about him potentially serving on dissertation committees, but also that “Lynch was not a member of the standing faculty, but rather was administrative staff.” Not that lying is ok, either way, but a PhD may not have been required for his job if he isn’t faculty.

    Seems like he was hired in 2004, and claimed to have gotten the PhD in 2007, so I think this is more about dishonesty after hire, than hire under false pretenses.

    PS. Will Penn be taking you off their favored alumni list now?


  2. From the article:
    a specialist in nontraditional education, was unaware he didn’t have the degree

    Ha ha! Not only do the jokes write themselves, the diagnoses write themselves as well.


  3. Oh, please, please! I just throw away the alumni mag unwrapped.

    (I’m sure that Penn doesn’t give a crap about what I think or write here, because I’m not writing donation checks after all, and even if I did they wouldn’t be so large that they’d get special notice.)

    It’s ironic: I make my living directly because of my graduate education, although I feel zero institutional loyalty and write them zero checks. The only institution I feel any loyalty to is my undergrad institution, and I sure couldn’t have the glamorous, important, high-profile job I have now with just a B.A. in History.



  4. I wouldn’t be surprised if he made the leap to a think tank or lobby group.

    Unaware that he hadn’t completed the degree? Wow – and he thought that would fly in an institution of higher education?


  5. A spokeswoman for the graduate school said on Wednesday that Lynch, 47, a specialist in nontraditional education, was unaware he didn’t have the degree.

    “He mistakenly believed that it was complete,” graduate school spokeswoman Kat Stein said.



  6. How can someone be “unaware” of not having completed the degree? “Oh, wait, wasn’t I supposed to go to some ‘defense’ thingy? Oh well, I’m sure that’s just a formality.”


  7. Umm, by all means, please *do* unwrap that alumni magazine (_Pennsylvania Gazette_, Jan/Feb, 2011) and read all about Lynch connecting with a 19 year-old Korean millionaire who hit the States determined to revolutionize education here along the lines of principles that fit the modern “reform” (sic) profile. As another prominent Philadelphia-based reformer who funded his projects when the back doors of a Brinks truck popped open in front of his car (google: #Joey Coyle, 1981) is reported to have said: “money talks and bullsh!t walks.” I read this piece last year and said oh my, I wish this stuff would just implode.

    I’m adding another category to my c.v. today that says: “prestigious stuff I can’t prove I don’t have.”


  8. Correction: the Korean immigrant millionaire was thirty by the time she entered the Penn Ed. doctoral program. Having retired with “good eight-figure money” in her checking account, she bought a college in California. When she asked Lynch if she could cut-and-paste the Penn model onto her school he answered “steal shamelessly.” Maybe some vice-dean up at Columbia said the same thing?


  9. Lynch’s future is somewhere from same job somewhere else to president of the US. Frauds are everywhere and in significant numbers. The damage they cause, including Lynch, doesn’t depend on a PhD. I would’ve left him in the job; why even bother?


  10. You know this type of thing never happens in Ghana. It did happen frequently at my previous place of appointment, however. Apparently only American institutions can get away with this kind and level of fraud. Did they not ask to see a copy of the PhD? What about transcripts? Finally, how come they don’t know how to use a telephone? Really I think that everybody above him should also resign just because they clearly fail to have the basic intelligence to make any hiring decisions.


  11. Well, I can see how this sort of situation would arise and it has nothing to do with the “basic intelligence” of the folks up above. We have plenty of mid-level administrators at my university who rise through the ranks from relatively modest beginnings. They gain appropriate degrees (HR, public policy, whatever) as they move on up. None of those folks try to hide what they are doing though, in fact, completing the advanced degree is part of the job advancement track.


  12. That’s the kind of scamster this guy is–the educrat on the make who “forgets” what his degree requirements are and whether or not he’s completed them. And that’s precisely what’s so offensive to me–the complete disregard if not outright disrespect for academic values.

    That said, Otto raises an important point: if the degree was instrumental to his earning and/or keeping his job, then the administrators who hired and promoted him should have followed up. NOT to do so is just further evidence of $hitting on academic values.


  13. Too much nano, too much proton (the _Inquirer_ story about the educrat’s downfall ended up on being robo-“sponsored” by a new Penn medical palace!?!); too much asphalt and astroturf and lights-on-all-night in the “green” Penn Park; too much tearing up the open stack library for a glitzy special collections unit, complete with a Grand Staircase that’s literally devouring the French Revolution section [DC 101-DC 401] going on at old BFU to suit me. The palace guardians should do a little less “cutting edge,” a little less “integrates knowledge,” a little less “connects,” and a little more back-to-basics palace guarding.

    Quere: if you could put 10 million books in the old 30th Street Post Office, or 5,000 IRS auditors, what would the “best practices” call be? Why not tear down the Franklin Building and send the educrats to Inner South Jersey and keep the books closer to home? Just sayin’


  14. p.s. a LOT less “Coursera,” and even a little less “Excellence-to-Eminence” tm, if necessary, if something has to go overboard to keep the basic liberal arts ship in the air.


  15. I haven’t always had to submit a transcript. As to how you can “forget” – at my former U, I had one student who finished everything, and the the office lost her diss three times. She decided it wasn’t worth it to print it a 4th time.


  16. Since this guy was on panels about “e-learning” (his bio is up from another source), it seems his ed degree may well have been necessary to his employment. And being “unaware” of whether or not he got his degree seems the height of doublespeak. “Mistakes were made…”

    Not only do our candidates have to submit their transcripts, they also have to undergo criminal background checks. But I wonder if, at the administrative level, this is true. Needless to say, in the future, I doubt his fraud will be caught on one of those checks. And I wonder how many others like him there are out there…


  17. I actually met the infamous Dr. Lynch last year. He was quite condescending and insulting about the value of educational research, and especially the work in educational leadership. (He was in charge of Penn’s infamous fast-track Ed.D. program; “Hey working professionals!! In just three years of selected weekends, you too can be called ‘Dr. Leader.’ Just dial 888….”)

    Clearly, it is easy to mock (rigorous scholarship) what one doesn’t bother to do oneself.

    I found him to be a truly odious human being. I would far prefer dealing with used car salespeople promising me a fabulous deal. At least they’re not trying to blow up my world in the process of selling…

    And if you’re curious, please see,


  18. Thanks, calugg–both for the personal reflections on “Dr.” Lynch and the article on Ed.D. programs.

    If I had a Ph.D. in Education, I’d be some pi$$ed about the confusion between the degrees.


  19. Ah-henh:

    It seems that Yahoo’s draft proxy statement and web site say that CEO Scott Thompson earned a bachelor’s degree from Stonehill College in “accounting and computer science.” But Loeb says in a letter today to the board that when he checked, ”Stonehill College informed us that it did not begin awarding computer science degrees until 1983 — four years after Mr. Thompson graduated.” Loeb adds that if Thompson “embellished his academic credentials we think that it 1) undermines his credibility as a technology expert and 2) reflects poorly on the character of the CEO who has been tasked with leading Yahoo! at this critical juncture.”

    It matters, kids, no matter how high you go — a lie is a lie, especially when there’s an office dedicated to degree verification.


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