See Lone Star Board President Randy Bates' comments at the end of this post.
Go to the Web site (unless they've changed it) of the Lone Star College System in Houston, type in the word chancellor in the search box and you'll find out their chancellor, Dr. Richard Carpenter, has a degree from the prestigious Northwestern University in Illinois.
Except that he doesn't. A Houston Press check of records through the National Student Clearing House shows no evidence that Carpenter ever got a degree from Northwestern.
Instead, he got a bachelor's and a master's degree from Northwestern State University located in Louisiana in 1974 and 1977, respectively. The Illinois university is a top-rated school in U.S. News & World Report. The Louisiana one is not.
Calls to Carpenter were not returned to the Press. His office said he was out of town and a direct call to his cell phone went unanswered. His assistant, Helen Clougherty, returned a call today and confirmed that the information under her boss's bio on the Web site is incorrect. He does not have a degree from Northwestern, she said, and was at a loss to explain how it got there, but pledged to research it.
"That is incorrect because it's Northwestern State. I don't know who published this; obviously we didn't proof it well enough. "
She did direct us, through several steps, to the personnel section of the Web site, which is achieved by going to the home page, clicking on "programs & classes" then on "LSCS Catalog" and then "Personnel." Whoa!
There it lists (correctly) his Master of Education and Bachelor of Music Education from Northwestern State University, as well as his Doctor of Education from North Carolina State University.
But while his Lone Star bio says his doctorate is in "college leadership," the national clearinghouse records from NCSU show that his 1980 degree is in Adult Education and Community College Education, which, we're told, is a very different discipline, one designed to build non-credit courses for the community (think Spanish for fun or home landscaping).
In like manner, his master's is actually in Secondary School Administration rather than Higher Education Administration, as his bio lists. The one he has is for principals and teachers aspiring to be principals, the other is for the administration of a college.
While it would be pleasant to file this away under a proofing error excuse -- one that, by the way, the Greater Houston Partnership has perpetrated on its own Web site (Carpenter is a GHP board member) -- it's apparently one that hasn't been discovered for, well, years.
An August 2005 story in The Chronicle of Higher Education entitled "A Las Vegas Makeover," about Carpenter's tour of duty as president of the Community College of Southern Nevada, repeats the same wrong information. According to that article, Carpenter got his B.A. in music education from Northwestern University in 1974, his master's in higher-education administration, and his doctorate in community college leadership. Alas, not so.
And in 2004 in a press release issued when Carpenter accepted the presidency at the Community College of Southern Nevada, it stated that he had a Ph.D. in community college leadership from NCSU.
Apparently, these mistakes have just been overlooked through the years. And what college president or chancellor never looks at his official bio?
The Press also put in a call to Lone Star Board President Randy Bates, who asked for some documentation before considering to make any comment. We also put in calls to board members Tom Forestier and David Holsey. We will update this story when we hear back from any of them.
Update: Randy Bates got back to us and thanked us for bringing the error to their attention. He also said:
1. I have no personal knowledge whether Dr. Carpenter proofs the website submissions 2. You assume the error has been there for sometime and I don't know that to be true. 3. I never thought Dr. Carpenter attended Northwestern University because when he applied for this position he provided his transcript from Northwestern State University.
And David Holsey called us back as well. "I'm the one who hired Dr. Carpenter and I'm the one who checked him out. Northwestern? I don't know how many Northwesterns there probably are. There was nothing on his résumé that says he went to school in Illinois. He's from Louisiana."
"I hired him and I checked out his credentials and they were impeccable. I apologize for the Web site being wrong. That has nothing to do with Dr. Carpenter. We made a mistake."
Asked if this wasn't a matter of honesty on Carpenter's part to make sure the information out there about him is correct, especially on his own school's Web site, Holsey said: "I'm interested in the result that Dr. Carpenter produces and who he is, and this by no means impugns any of the high regard I hold him in."
So there you have it. Apparently the highest-ranking officials at Lone Star College System don't read their own Web site. As for The Chronicle of Higher Education story in 2005 and the Nevada press release in 2004, well, it's just hard to get things right, isn't it?
Below, see a screenshot of the bio taken yesterday. (Click for larger version.)