Post Academic

Christine O’Donnell and fudging your resume

Since we were on the topic of politics this week, have you heard about the resume padding scandal involving GOP Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, who seems to represent her whole own kind of crazy?  Talking Points Memo has been all over what it’s calling “LinkedIn Gate”, which involves O’Donnell fudging the education line of her resume.  The main issue in question is a line on her resume that she earned a “Certificate in Post Modernism in the New Millennium” at the University of Oxford, which sounds a little sketchy to begin with.  Anyway, O’Donnell’s campaign came up with some kind of lame conspiracy explanation that someone put up a fake LinkedIn account to discredit her, but HuffPo checked with ZoomInfo about identical education info posted there and found out that the bio was verified by O’Donnell.

"Mmmm fudge!" by Brampton cyclist (Creative Commons license)

This opened up a bigger can of worms for O’Donnell, especially when TPM went digging and asked the “Claremont Institute”, also listed on her resume, about her application to see if it included the Oxford certificate.  In turn, TPM learned that the her participation in a one-week program at the “Claremont Institute” was embellished, which, one presumes, includes the vague idea that the conservative think-tank would be connected to the Claremont Colleges, which it isn’t. Now we go further down the rabbit hole of O’Donnell’s imaginary education, since, per Politico, she hadn’t actually received her undergrad diploma from Farleigh Dickinson until this September, even though she has been calling herself a graduate of the school.  Apparently, she had an elective to finish up and owed the school $4000 in tuition — fudging the degree is one thing, but owing tuition money can’t bode well for her Tea Party bona fides, if there is such a thing, can it?

Going back to what started this whole thing off, the Oxford certificate, the line stretches the meaning of “at Oxford” to its extremes, since she earned a certificate from a three-week program called the “Phoenix Institute” that seems to rent space from Oxford and isn’t officially affiliated with Oxford.  O’Donnell’s “Oxford” “tutor”, currently an Oxford Ph.D. candidate and prof somewhere in Nicaragua, apparently raves about her, describing her as “intelligent, engaged, dynamic, good with questions and interested in ideas” and his course as stacking up to “any graduate school at any university.”  All this brings to my mind those “Oxford Round Table” solicitations I’ve received in my inbox before, which set off warning bells by asking for an exorbitant fee before you read the fine print that it’s not connected to Oxford.  Have you gotten those?  It’s kinda like the elitist Ph.D. version of the Phoenix Institute for more advanced scholars to, it seems, buy an Oxford conference paper to put on your CV at a cost of a few thousand bucks.  If I’m right or wrong about this and someone has attended, please comment below.  I just know that if my invite to something at Oxford involves a company in Kentucky, I’m questioning if it’s legit.

All this begs the question of just why is Oxford letting it’s name be used for all these dubious enterprises, especially when you’d think that Oxford would be protecting its brand and/or too snobby to let just anyone co-opt it, right?  And anyone who’s following the O’Donnell saga has to be wondering when she would’ve had the time to get all these “degrees”, since it seems like she spent much of the late 1990s on Bill Maher’s “Politcally Incorrect” and “MTV News”.

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