Claremont Insider: Staff Credentials

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Staff Credentials

The Claremont 400 love to tell us how our city staff members are the most well-trained, the most highly qualified, the most competent of any staffers around.

So, we wonder, why is it we're always getting into such messes, whether it's putting over $5.3 million of city money into the failed Orange County Investment Pool in the 1990's, losing out on a $1 million open space grant because of faulty deed language for Johnson's Pasture, or $17.5 million because the city failed to implement a Vegetation Management Plan they created for the Claremont Wilderness Park?

That got us here at the Insider to thinking that maybe our staffers qualifications aren't as sterling as we're led to believe.

We came across City Engineer Craig Bradshaw's resume on Linkedin, and saw this for Bradshaw's education:


  • Rushmore University
  • Brigham Young University
  • Brigham Young University

Turns out Bradshaw has an MBA degree from Rushmore. Never heard of it? Rushmore University, that bastion of higher learning, is unaccredited and is located in the Cayman Islands. It deals exclusively in "distance learning."

At Rushmore, once you get your degree, you can become an associate professor and join a faculty that counts among its ranks such learned educators as Morten Middelfart. (Honest, we didn't make that one up!)

The Rushmore website boasts:

After you graduate from your program you may be eligible for an appointment to the position of Associate Professor of Rushmore University. To be considered for this honor, you must be the author of a published book or other significant project. An Associate Professor usually acts as an advisor for a Rushmore student who wants to study one of his or her books or related materials.
Self-promotion? Marketing? You tell us.

In any event, in 2006 Claremont paid Bradshaw $129,910.63 in earnings plus $48,520.50 in benefits. Not doubt there's some stepped-up pay scale for having that Rushmore MBA degree. Imagine what an MBA from an accredited university would get him!

Claremont seems to love those "distance learning" degrees. Recall that the city hired a biologist named Thomas Leslie to do it's biological study for the Padua Park environmental impact report (EIR). Leslie, whom the Claremont Courier reported signed his report for the Padua EIR "Thomas Leslie, Ph.D./Biologist," got his doctorate (in theology) from the Universal Life Church, an online institute of "distance learning." That ULC degree, by the way, cost about $100.

(Coincidentally, Leslie, like Bradshaw, did his undergrad work at BYU.)

Rushmore (established 1996) gets a lot of ribbing from other educators. Blogger and economics professor Ronald M. Ayers, who teaches at the University of Texas at San Antonio, wrote this back in 2005:

Rushmore is certainly different from the more widely known, accredited online universities, such as the University of Phoenix. You can enroll in Rushmore's MBA (Master of Business Administration) program for a one-time payment of $5,499. No Bachelor's degree, the normal prerequisite for an MBA? No problem, because Rushmore doesn't require a Bachelor's degree. Don't waste your time studying for the usual admissions test either. There is none. Speed is of the essence at Rushmore, though. Because there are no admissions tests and no transcripts required, your application will be processed in a mere three days.

Not only are there no admissions tests, there are no tests at all, according to Ayers. Rushmore was founded in South Dakota, which explains the name, but the state apparently cracked down on unaccredited universities, and the school relocated to the Caymans. The Chronicle of Higher Education had an article in March, 2001, about states trying to get handle on diploma mills like Rushmore.

You'd think that a place like Claremont that calls itself "The City of Trees and Ph.D's" would do a better job of verifying credentials. Oh well, at least this explains Claremont's traffic woes, which Bradshaw oversees as the City Engineer.