Accountability

Evaluator Reverses Position On Degrees From Saint Regis

By Andrew Trotter — May 19, 2004 3 min read

The continuing fallout from the Georgia “diploma mill” scandal, in which public school educators received advanced teaching credentials and pay raises using degrees from an online university, has led to reactions by several parties involved in the matter.

One reaction is a turnabout by Sheila Danzig, the operator of Career Consultants International, a credential-evaluation service that is part of Sunrise, Fla.-based National Success Marketing Inc. Last fall, she sent letters to Georgia officials stating that the degrees from Saint Regis University, the reputed diploma mill, were equivalent to degrees from a regionally accredited U.S. institution.

Ms. Danzig has acknowledged having financial ties to Saint Regis, which is said to be based in Liberia but appears to be run from the U.S. (“Educators’ Degrees Earned on Internet Raise Fraud Issues,” May 5, 2004.) Others in the credential-evaluation field say those ties constituted a breach of professionalism and a conflict of interest.

In a May 6 e-mail sent to Education Week, Ms. Danzig said she would no longer rate Saint Regis degrees as equivalent to degrees from accredited U.S. institutions.

She restated her contention, however, that Saint Regis’ accreditation by the Liberian government, and the fact that Liberia’s higher education standards “are not substandard,” mean that the university’s degrees should be considered equivalent to those from accredited schools in the United States.

“I believe that Saint Regis may well get things worked out, and if and when they do, I would reconsider evaluating them (as equivalent to an accredited U.S. school),” she wrote in the e-mail.

But a critic of Ms. Danzig’s professional practices, Dale Gough, a spokesman for the Washington-based American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, which includes companies that provide credential-evaluation services, said her turnabout on Saint Regis didn’t mean much.

“That horse is out of the barn,” he said.

Beyond that situation, he said, his association has been urging state teacher-licensing boards and school district officials not to take accreditation by a foreign government at face value.

“Every year, we talk to them about how important it is to get evaluation of foreign credentials—not just as to the authenticity of the credential, but also what it represents,” he said.

Liberian Reactions

Several Liberian government officials, meanwhile, affirmed last week that Saint Regis is accredited by their government.

Lawrence S. Bestman, the executive director of the Liberian Higher Education Commission, located in Monrovia, the nation’s capital, said in a telephone interview that “after thorough investigation,” Saint Regis had been accredited last fall.

Yet some diploma mill experts in the United States have suggested that the political turmoil that persists in Liberia following a civil war has allowed corruption in many areas of government. They advise great caution in weighing a Liberian seal of approval.

Another reaction came from Saint Regis University itself, which announced last week that, because of criticism in the news media, it would begin “outsourcing” its admissions process for U.S.-based students and its online test for course credit to unspecified organizations in the United States.

Saint Regis’ Web site states that its degrees are conferred based on applicant’s life experience or can be earned online by taking its “proprietary” test. Fees range from $995 for a master’s degree to $1,500 for a doctorate. The university also says it offers 700 courses online, which can also lead to degrees.

Robert S. Stefaniak, 57, who was listed on the Saint Regis announcement as a public relations contact for Saint Regis, said in an interview that the degrees are legitimate.

Mr. Stefaniak said he does not know how many students Saint Regis has or other details, such as the identity of the university’s owners.

Mr. Stefaniak, who lives in Milwaukee, said he is a former radio host who has taught classes for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and worked with the Milwaukee public schools.

Listed as a faculty member at Saint Regis, he said he holds a master’s and a doctoral degree from the university. The master’s was based on a career spent in the radio and music business; the doctorate was based on developing materials for a Saint Regis course. But he said he has not yet taught any courses for the university.

A version of this article appeared in the May 19, 2004 edition of Education Week as Evaluator Reverses Position On Degrees From Saint Regis

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Arizona School Data Analyst - (AZVA)
Arizona, United States
K12 Inc.
Software Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association

Read Next

Accountability Opinion What Should School Accountability Look Like in a Time of COVID-19?
Remote learning is not like in person, and after nine months of it, data are revealing how harmful COVID-19 has been to children's learning.
6 min read
Image shows a speech bubble divided into 4 overlapping, connecting parts.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty and Laura Baker/Education Week
Accountability State Schools Chiefs Push Biden for Wiggle Room on Accountability During Pandemic
State schools chiefs say it's necessary to change how they use scores from mandated annual tests during the unprecedented disruption created by the coronavirus pandemic.
4 min read
Image of students taking a test.
smolaw11/iStock/Getty
Accountability Could Biden Find a Middle Path on Student Testing During the Pandemic?
Waiving some portions of federal law could help the Biden administration craft a compromise on tests, but pressing questions would remain.
6 min read
President-elect Joe Biden speaks as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris listens during an event in Wilmington, Del., introducing their nominees and appointees to economic policy posts.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris listens during an event in Wilmington, Del., introducing their nominees and appointees to economic policy posts.
Andrew Harnik/AP
Accountability GreatSchools' Ratings Revamp Credits Schools for Boosting Academic Growth
The schools rating website gives heavier weight to schools that are making strong academic growth and supporting historically disadvantaged students.
3 min read