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Old 09-28-2009, 12:57 PM
LiveOnAPlane LiveOnAPlane is offline
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Revoke a College Degree -- Can They Do This?

I haven't watched the show yet, but this is inpired by a synopsis of the new show "Community" where a lawyer (I think) goes back to a community college to teach after his (presumably law-)degree is revoked.

Which got me to wondering, can a college revoke a degree once it is awarded? Imagine whatever circumstances you want, but I thought once a degree was conferred, it was...well, conferred.

I could see having some kind of notation put in one's transcript like "earned the B.S., but under fradulent conditions" or something.

(I know, don't take anything on television too much as any sort of fact)

So, does anyone know if there is a procedure for doing this? Thanks!
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Old 09-28-2009, 01:01 PM
constanze constanze is offline
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I have no close knowledge about US colleges, but Doctorate degrees from universities, it was always my understanding that if they later discovered you cheated (faking results) or plagiarized, the title could and would be revoked, no matter how many years had passed.

Why should you keep a title you didn't earn correctly?
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Old 09-28-2009, 01:03 PM
Bisected8 Bisected8 is offline
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As far as my understanding goes, most educational institutions will withdraw a qualification if there is any evidence of cheating.

I'd guess there's nothing to stop them; a qualification is basically a document that says "I think this guy can do so and so" (anyone can give a certificate out, it's a matter of whether they can be trusted; i.e. be an accredited institution) so they presumably have the right to say "hang on, we've realised that this guy cannot really do so and so".
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Old 09-28-2009, 01:07 PM
Darth Sensitive Darth Sensitive is offline
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Did he lose his degree, or just get disbarred (has the degree, but isn't allowed to practice law)?
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Old 09-28-2009, 01:22 PM
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Interesting question. It appears that there's actually legal precedent on in this issue. Every university is slightly different, so slightly different internal procedures might be used; however, it probably wouldn't be much different from the process described in the 1986 Michigan case Crook v. Baker:
Quote:
Appellee Wilson W. Crook, III (Crook) was awarded [a Master's of Science degree]. Thereafter, information came to the attention of the University that Crook may have fabricated data in his master's thesis, and Crook was advised that a hearing would be held to determine whether such was true, and if so, that his degree might be revoked. An Ad Hoc Disciplinary Committee (Committee) of University professors was designated to hear the charges. Crook was furnished with documents allegedly supporting the charges, to which Crook replied. A hearing was held at which Crook was accompanied by his attorney, following which the Committee filed a report finding that Crook had indeed been guilty of fraud but made no recommendation as to revocation of the degree. This finding was approved and revocation was recommended by intermediate authorities in the University hierarchy.
As to the rationale behind why degrees can be revoked, see Waliga v. Kent State. The rationale is pretty much that postulated by Bisected8:
Quote:
We consider it self-evident that a college or university acting, through its board of trustees does have the inherent authority to revoke an improperly awarded degree where (1) good cause such as fraud, deceit, or error is shown, and (2) the degree holder is afforded a fair hearing at which he can present evidence and protect his interest. Academic degrees are a university's certification to the world at large of the recipient's educational achievement and fulfillment of the institution's standards. To hold that a university may never withdraw, a degree, effectively requires the university to continue making a false certification to the public at large of the accomplishment of persons who in fact lack the very qualifications that are certified. Such a holding would undermine public confidence in the integrity of degrees, call academic standards into question and harm those who rely on the certification which the degree represents.
Also, here's an interesting review of the issues involved in revoking a degree.
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Old 09-28-2009, 01:46 PM
Rumor_Watkins Rumor_Watkins is offline
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Everyone has made good points, and I largely agree, but I would also add that as more time passes, it becomes more and more difficult to retroactively revoke the degree.

You're probably not going to get your Bachelor's degree yanked from you when you're 40 years old if they found out you cheated on your Psych 101 midterm, even if the University wanted to.
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Old 09-28-2009, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Sensitive View Post
Did he lose his degree, or just get disbarred (has the degree, but isn't allowed to practice law)?
His degree was from an unaccredited college and thus his license was revoked.

N.B. Community is a comedy. It does not pretend to be accurate about these details -- they aren't funny.
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Old 09-28-2009, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Sensitive View Post
Did he lose his degree, or just get disbarred (has the degree, but isn't allowed to practice law)?
The quote went something like this:

Friend: I thought you said you had a law degree from Columbia?
Guy: Yes, but it turns out you need an American degree.
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Old 09-28-2009, 02:21 PM
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They sent me back at the end for 1 credit, because I "repeated" a 4-credit Incomplete in a discontinued class with its 3-credit replacement course.
I made up the credit in a summer "immersion course" in 3 weeks. I had the diploma and cap and gown, and yearbook picture, but not a matching transcript until the last credit was in.

Last edited by Brainiac; 09-28-2009 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 09-28-2009, 02:22 PM
Bijou Drains Bijou Drains is offline
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Here is a case where someone gave up their degree after she admitted she cheated

http://www.usatoday.com/money/indust...ss-arena_x.htm

http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/dai...ige_laurie.php

Of course she's part of the Walton family so she's going to be OK for money for a while.

Last edited by Bijou Drains; 09-28-2009 at 02:25 PM.
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Old 09-28-2009, 02:29 PM
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I have this nightmare that my alma mater is going to do a record review and find out that I missed some deadline or didn't sign in the right place, or whatever, and rescind my degree, which would then cause me to lose my job since it requires a degree.

HH, who didn't cheat in college but did fudge the font size on more than one term paper.
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Old 09-28-2009, 04:20 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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Originally Posted by constanze View Post
I have no close knowledge about US colleges, but Doctorate degrees from universities, it was always my understanding that if they later discovered you cheated (faking results) or plagiarized, the title could and would be revoked, no matter how many years had passed.

Why should you keep a title you didn't earn correctly?
For one thing, unlike in Germany, a degree is not a title. Curiously, I could be arrested in Germany for calling myself Dr. Seldon, even though it was a fully earned degree but it wasn't awarded by a German university. I think I read somewhere that nowadays other EU are recognized.

It is not clear in my mind what revocation actually means. I still have the piece of parchment and, in my career I have never been asked to show it to anyone anyway. Once I got my first job (thanks to my thesis advisor) all the rest depended only on my subsequent accomplishments.
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Old 09-28-2009, 04:28 PM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Munch View Post
The quote went something like this:

Friend: I thought you said you had a law degree from Columbia?
Guy: Yes, but it turns out you need an American degree.
IIRC, the gag was that his law degree is perfectly legitimate, but his undergraduate degree was an e-mail attachment from Colombia.
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:39 PM
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At the University of California, degrees, once awarded, can be rescinded by vote from the Academic Senate. If a diploma has been issued, it's obviously not possible to get that back, but the degree can no longer be verified and it is removed from the transcript.

This happens quite frequently, both for rare/exceptional circumstances, and much more mundane administrative reasons.
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Old 09-28-2009, 06:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeyHomie View Post
I have this nightmare that my alma mater is going to do a record review and find out that I missed some deadline or didn't sign in the right place, or whatever, and rescind my degree, which would then cause me to lose my job since it requires a degree.

HH, who didn't cheat in college but did fudge the font size on more than one term paper.
Until I was about 30, I had a similar, but even worse recurring nightmare. About once a month, I'd dream that my old high school contacted me about some credits I missed (usually something stupid like PE). I'd be sent back to repeat a whole year of high school. Some people might actually enjoy that dream, but I hated everything about high school even the first time.
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Old 09-28-2009, 07:42 PM
Bijou Drains Bijou Drains is offline
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There are 2 very common dreams people have after college:

1 - The semester is ending and you realize you missed all the classes but you need the class to graduate.

2- You go to take the final exam and it was moved and you can't find the new room.

I had both of those dreams for about 10 years after college. And #2 actually happened to me but I was able to find the new room.
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Old 09-28-2009, 08:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bijou Drains View Post
Here is a case where someone gave up their degree after she admitted she cheated

http://www.usatoday.com/money/indust...ss-arena_x.htm

http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/dai...ige_laurie.php

Of course she's part of the Walton family so she's going to be OK for money for a while.
And let's not forget the Heather Bresch M.B.A. controversy. West Virginia University rescinded her degree.
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Old 09-28-2009, 09:42 PM
_xiao_wenti_ _xiao_wenti_ is offline
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I don't know if they got around to revoking the honorary degree they gave him, but the University of Alabama gave an honorary doctorate to Richard Scrushy (CEO of Healthsouth)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_M._Scrushy
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Old 09-28-2009, 10:17 PM
LiveOnAPlane LiveOnAPlane is offline
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Sorry to be back so late in regards to my post. Looks like my question and others have been quite well answered.

And, no one made fun of me for asking what I thought might be a really "dumb" question!

You all are the bestust.
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
It is not clear in my mind what revocation actually means. I still have the piece of parchment and, in my career I have never been asked to show it to anyone anyway.
The fact that nobody has asked to see the piece of parchment doesn't make revocation less meaningful, it makes it more meaningful: if the piece of paper was what people were interested in seeing, then your degree is effectively irrevocable short of the school sending ninjas to raid your file cabinet. But if a prospective employer calls up the school to verify your degree and the school says you don't have a degree, then for all practical purposes you don't have one.
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Old 09-29-2009, 08:36 AM
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It's even easier than that for employers to verify your credentials. Many universities cooperate with these guys to make degree verification a piece of cake:

http://www.studentclearinghouse.org/
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Old 07-31-2011, 03:57 PM
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I guess the only way I got to this post was due to taking a break from work, and my own bordeom. Although lawyers can be disbarred, especially for repeatedly breaking state and federal laws, I seriously doubt that they can revoke a degree. That is unless the individual commits a very, very serious crime (such as murder, or mass murder). I understand that individuals with Ph.D., M.D.'s and other doctorates can be called into question for cheating, but I don't think minor, or even fairly major cheating, after a degree has been conferred even qualifies for revoking of a degree.

Folks! Lets face it CHEATING exists! PLAGARISM EXISTS! DISHONESTY EXISTS! I've worked around medical schools for almost 20 years! Do I think that the majority of students are honest hard working people? Yes! Do I think that distribution of OTQ (old test questions) and secondary invididuals writing papers for students exists YES! Do I think colleges or even individuals who consider someones degree be revoked for reasons should exist YES! Do I think they need to have a very detailed definition of why it should be revoked YES!

If colleges and universities were to start revoking undergraduate degrees for cheating, it would affect 50- 75% of all graduates. Are colleges going to start doing this. I don't think so, I doesn't look good.
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Old 07-31-2011, 04:39 PM
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You don't seem to know much about colleges, and I wonder where you got the figure of 50-75% of all graduates.

The faculty of a college have all worked to get their degrees and look down upon any cheating. If you do it as a student, and are discovered, you are in serious trouble, and may flunk or course or be kicked out (depending on how serious the cheating was). Every faculty member I work with has been implacable in punishing students who they catch cheated.

Do some people cheat? Sure. Do some get away with it? Of course. But no college ever turns a blind eye to cheating (well, maybe by a star athlete, but not even then). If a degree is granted to anyone who is known to have cheated, the faculty would insist that the college revoke it, since it devalues their work.
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Old 07-31-2011, 04:58 PM
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I think ya'll missed the whole point of the original gag. His law degree was from a university in the country of Colombia, not from Columbia. I sincerely doubt a law degree from Colombia would qualify you to sit for the bar exam in any US state.
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Old 07-31-2011, 05:07 PM
Indistinguishable Indistinguishable is offline
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I think the gag was actually that his bachelor's is from Colombia. Thus, he needs a new bachelor's. No one's ever impugned his law degree (I suppose one must assume the problem is that the institution which granted him his law degree is unhappy with the fraudulent bachelor's he used to get in).

But, mostly, trying to make too much sense of such details won't work out. It's not trying to be anything other than funny.

Last edited by Indistinguishable; 07-31-2011 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 07-31-2011, 05:10 PM
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I think ya'll missed the whole point of the original gag. His law degree was from a university in the country of Colombia, not from Columbia. I sincerely doubt a law degree from Colombia would qualify you to sit for the bar exam in any US state.
It was Jeff's bachelor's degree (or whatever the undergraduate degree is called in Colombia) that's from a Colombian university; presumably his law degree is from an American law school.
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Old 07-31-2011, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Bijou Drains View Post
There are 2 very common dreams people have after college:...
2- You go to take the final exam and it was moved and you can't find the new room...
And #2 actually happened to me but I was able to find the new room.
Okay, as long as somebody re-animated this zombie, I'll post.

This happened to me, too! I never found the room, and thought I got the date wrong. When I later talked with the professor, he believed me and let me take the test in his office. I never learned why he changed the test location... Very embarrassing and boy, did I feel stupid, but I'm glad he believed me.
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Old 07-31-2011, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by walkerth13 View Post
I guess the only way I got to this post was due to taking a break from work, and my own bordeom. Although lawyers can be disbarred, especially for repeatedly breaking state and federal laws, I seriously doubt that they can revoke a degree. That is unless the individual commits a very, very serious crime (such as murder, or mass murder). I understand that individuals with Ph.D., M.D.'s and other doctorates can be called into question for cheating, but I don't think minor, or even fairly major cheating, after a degree has been conferred even qualifies for revoking of a degree.
Did you read all the messages in the thread? Did you take a look at the links that were cited?
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Old 07-31-2011, 06:35 PM
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Quoth walkerth13:
Quote:
I guess the only way I got to this post was due to taking a break from work, and my own bordeom. Although lawyers can be disbarred, especially for repeatedly breaking state and federal laws, I seriously doubt that they can revoke a degree. That is unless the individual commits a very, very serious crime (such as murder, or mass murder).
Why would they revoke a degree for murder? A degree isn't a statement that so-and-so is a really swell guy. It's a statement that he's done a certain amount of work and has a certain amount of knowledge. Cheating would call that into question. Killing someone wouldn't.

Quote:
Do I think that distribution of OTQ (old test questions) and secondary invididuals writing papers for students exists YES!
In my experience, most professors distribute old test questions themselves, and the ones who don't, it's only because they're not organized enough to have saved them. Distributing old test questions isn't cheating. In fact, in my experience, the folks most likely to cheat are the least likely to get ahold of and go over old test questions-- That would be studying, and is too much work for them.
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Old 07-31-2011, 07:22 PM
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I know they do the reverse of revoking degrees; a friend of mine got a Bachelor's degree in Architecture from Tulane in about 1995 or so, and sometime in the early 2000s, they mailed him a Master's degree, because the school or accreditation body or someone had decided that the degree actually meets the criteria for a Master's, so they retroactively awarded Master's to a bunch of people who were originally awarded Bachelor's degrees.
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