Louisville Says Doctorate Earned in Semester Is Legit

by E Wayne Ross on April 22, 2009

Inside Higher Ed: Louisville Says Doctorate Earned in Semester Is Legit

The University of Louisville has concluded that a much-questioned doctorate it awarded — for one semester of study — was legitimate, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. The doctorate was awarded to John Deasy in 2004 — and appears to violate university rules about residency requirements. Deasy, as a school superintendent, had given money to a research center headed by the then-dean of Louisville’s education college, who then went on to chair Deasy’s dissertation committee, leading to questions about the legitimacy of the degree. But the university found that the “totality of the circumstances” indicated an appropriate process. At the same time, Louisville announced that it is tightening the procedures about exemptions from normal procedures for doctorates. The former dean, Robert Felner, was for years popular with administrators even as he angered many professors. In October, he was indicted on 10 counts of mail fraud, money-laundering and income-tax evasion related to charges that he fraudulently obtained grants for Louisville and the University of Rhode Island. He has denied wrongdoing.

The Chronicle: U. of Louisville Says a Controversial Ph.D. Will Stand

The University of Louisville has concluded a seven-month investigation into the awarding of a Ph.D. in a case with connections to a former education dean who now faces federal fraud charges, and has decided that the degree will stand, The Courier-Journal reported.

The recipient, John E. Deasy, received the degree in 2004 after having been enrolled in the university for a single semester. Two years earlier, he had been involved in directing a $375,000 grant to a research center that was run by Robert Felner, who was then dean of Louisville’s College of Education and Human Development. Mr. Felner — who stepped down last summer from the Louisville job, as well as from a chancellor’s post he was planning to take in Wisconsin — served as chairman of Mr. Deasy’s dissertation committee.

Before his short stint at Louisville, Mr. Deasy had earned at least 50 credits toward a doctorate at three other institutions, including the University of Rhode Island, where Mr. Felner taught until 2003.