Attending a Gila County Community College Board of Governors meeting anymore is like watching the Three Stooges' comedy short, "Men in Black."
For those of you unfamiliar with the gag, Larry, Moe and Curly play three deadbeat medical school flunkies, Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine and Dr. Howard. The threesome bumble through the hospital over the loudspeaker's nonstop paging: "Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard. Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard."
The list of doctors at Gila Community College, now run by Eastern Arizona College, keeps growing. Yesterday, the board of governors announced the appointment of Dr. Harry Swanson as dean of the Payson campus. He completes the triumvirate of EAC's Gila County diploma-mill educated leadership: Dr. Stephen Cullen, dean of the Gila Pueblo campus and Margo Bracamonte, senior dean.
Nearly everyone in charge of running our college has earned some, if not all of their credentials from online universities.
According to his resume', Cullen, down in Globe, received his doctor designation from online Capella University -- an Orwellian institution that insists on using its own nomenclature. Students are not students at Capella -- they're learners.
Bracamonte, who's running the whole show, has her bachelor's degree from the University of Phoenix, noted EAC's web site.
And now Dr. Swanson comes along with his doctorate from the degree mill to beat all degree mills -- ASU -- as in American State University. He earned a Ph.D., said his resume', in education with an emphasis on cultural resource management and museums.
A guy named Rudy Marn owned and operated ASU out of Honolulu, Hawaii. Hawaii's Office of Consumer Protection found ASU's "deceptive representation" not only distasteful, but illegal. They ran Marn right off the island in the late 1990s.
Marn found himself in Wyoming where he opened Hamilton University, and to avoid taxes, he built a church in the parking lot.
Then, when legislation changed in Wyoming, Marn was forced out of the U.S. and onto the sands of the Bahamas to resume his education-bilking operation.
CBS's "60 Minutes" Wednesday edition, back in November, caught up with a woman who was fired from her job after employers uncovered her sketchy ASU-Hamilton degrees.
The woman said, Marn charges students a couple thousand dollars, and requires a 2,000-word essay and a 10-question multiple choice exam for a master's degree.
For a few thousand more, and another essay, voila, you're a doctor.
Let's clarify, we have nothing against distance learning -- it's convenient and it works for lots of people with limited options.
But, let's stop the gratuitous use of "doctor" before everyone's name. It's not surgery, it's a board meeting.
These people are responsible for educating you and your children, so people, be vigilant. Go to college board meetings, and insist on quality services -- staff and education. Call Don Crowley of Citizens for a Better Payson Government at (928) 472-7001, to learn more about what you can do to get involved and be a part of the solution. Crowley and his partner, Gordon Metcalf, are working on efforts to hold the board responsible for its decisions.
Our educators need to adhere to a stricter standard of learning while setting a good example for our young people pursuing a higher education.
It's not about a piece of paper on the wall that you can buy online, it's about truly growing in knowledge and wisdom to build a better tomorrow.