Letters to the editor: Readers defend CCU

Washington Technology's coverage in the July 7 issue of the diploma mill controversy has sparked several letters defending California Coast University, which was identified as an unaccredited school.

"Your characterization ... is inaccurate and misleading," wrote Rodney Kirkland, a senior program manager in Hamilton, Va. "The school has been operating for the past 30 years with full institutional approval from the state of California, falling under the California Education Code as a degree-granting institution."

He also wrote: "California Coast is currently a candidate for accreditation by the Distance Education and Training Council, which is recognized by the U.S. Education Department. Please improve your reporting by accurately describing this school in the future and perhaps writing a correction."

Another reader, David Love, vice president of operations for telecom solutions at LogicaCMG Wireless Networks Inc., Dallas, also criticized the reports. Love said his letter reflects his opinion and not that of his employer.

Love received his doctorate in engineering management from California Coast after receiving degrees from Vanderbilt University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Texas.

"A master's in engineering plus seven years of full-time, paid, occupational experience in engineering were pre-requisites for admission," Love said. "CCU's engineering management dean, Peter Shanta, holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate from Case Institute."

Love's work at the school included eight courses, a research course and a formal dissertation. The dissertation included a preliminary proposal, formal proposal, dissertation, comprehensive written exam and a public defense at the school's campus in Santa Ana, Calif., he said.

Love's dissertation was the "Influence of German Type VII, XXI and XXIII Submarine Design and Engineering on the Post-World War II U.S. Navy Submarine Program."

"I am proud of the finished dissertation and believe that CCU's program is outstanding for those who are self-motivated and have the discipline to complete the work," he said.


The response of the Washington Technology editors:

California Coast University is not accredited by any organization recognized by the U.S. Education Department.

The school appears on the Oregon Student Assistance Commission Office of Degree Authorization's list of institutions that are not allowed to operate in the state and whose degrees are not legal for use when applying for state jobs. Oregon does recognize the degrees of some unaccredited schools, but CCU is not among them.

The Oregon office's Web site notes that "not all unaccredited colleges are necessarily degree mills in the traditional sense of the term. Some unaccredited colleges provide legitimate academic work."

Indiana, New Jersey and North Dakota are other states that do not recognize degrees from unaccredited institutions.

The Bureau for Private Post Secondary and Vocational Education, within California's Consumer Affairs Department, has licensed CCU to do business in California.

In June, CCU applied to the Distance Education and Training Council for accreditation. The U.S. Education Department does recognize the council as a legitimate accrediting organization.

Michael Lambert, the council's executive director, said California Coast's application would be evaluated at the organization's June 2004 meeting.

As a condition of its application, CCU agreed to close its doctorate programs, because the council's "scope of authority is limited to the first level of professional degree and below," Lambert said.

To read the complete letters to the editor go to www.washingtontechnology.com and type 115 in the Quickfind box.

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