Tuesday 21 October 2014

Abimbola Adeyinka investigate Buruji Kashamu’s honourary PhD

If you are a member of Zuckerville, you would most likely have seen a picture gone viral of Buruji Kashamu dressed in academic gown, flanked by a certain Dr. Tim Howard who is the President, Cambridge Graduate University, Massachusetts, USA and Dr Ankur Mehta, the Director of Graduate Program Operations of the same university.

Or you would have read recent reports in some major newspapers like Vanguard and Nigerian Tribune where Prince Buruji Kashamu flaunted the picture and certificate issued by the University. Kashamu was conferred with a honourary Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Humanities on Monday, October 13 2014.

Curiously, the conferment was done in Lagos.

If you recall, Prince Buruji Kashamu who is the Chairman, Organisation & Mobilisation, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), South West has been alleged to have a pending date with the law in the United States. So it therefore arouses one’s curiosity how a University from the same country where he is reportedly a fugitive from the law will award the same fellow a honorary PhD. A few comments online stated that the fact that the award was given to him at all indicates that he has no case to answer and it was all mere propaganda. A comment even indicated that since Cambridge University was not a studio institution, then it could only mean that Buruji was not a wanted man, at least not in the US.

But I had many questions buzzing in my head. What kind of American University will come down to Nigeria to award a politician PhD in Humanities? Why will the President of the University come personally instead of an African representative like the practice usually is? Why was the award conferred in Lagos and not the US? All these made me decide to dig a little deeper and investigate about Cambridge Graduate University. So ensure you sit properly as what I found out will shock you.

Cambridge Graduate University is touted as the first global campus university and the University is located at One Broadway, 14th Floor, Cambridge MA 02142 ,USA. The first shocker is that that building located at One Broadway is a popular high rise called Cambridge Innovation Centre (CIC) and houses over 500 companies- most of them start-ups. That building housed Google a few years ago. It is the 14th floor that allegedly headquarters one of American Universities. How did I find out? Just google ‘what kind of building is 14th Floor Cambridge MA 02142 , USA”. The question is what sort of reputable University is lumped together with about 500 other start-up companies in the same building?

And if that does not cause you to raise your eyebrows, then consider this. Is the University accredited by any American accrediting organization? Cambridge Graduate University is accredited by IAO (International Accreditation Organization) as shown on her website. However, all American accrediting organizations are recognized by either the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the United States Department of Education. Unfortunately, in this case, IAO is not recognized by either. You will find in this Wikipedia document that IAO is clearly listed as part of unrecognized higher education accreditation organizations.

The document reads in part:

“Many, but not all, of the entities in the list below are considered to be fraudulent accreditation mills that were set up to help diploma mills lure students and whose “accreditation” has no legal or academic value. Some diploma and degree mills have played a role in creating these accrediting bodies as well. These diploma and degree mills may further confuse matters by claiming to consider work history, professional education, previous learning and may even require the submission of a dissertation or thesis in order to give an added appearance of legitimacy”.

To further confirm this assertion, I also went through a list of about 114 colleges and Universities in Massachusetts. Guess what: Cambridge Graduate University was not one of them. See for yourself here.

Let me also point out that you should not confuse Cambridge Graduate University with Cambridge College or any of the 2 universities located in Cambridge, USA (Harvard and MIT). So, irrespective of the gold status IAO accreditation claimed by the Cambridge Graduate University, it is not a recognized university in the United States.

Furthermore, I stumbled on another document which punched holes in the claims of CGU. The document claimed among others that CGU wrongly included the names of some reputable professors as faculty members without seeking their permission. Another curious issue raised by the document was the fact that the students of the University are pooled from Saudi Arabia, India and West African nations. In the document, CGU was described as “crude, ill-constructed and poorly conceived pursuit of raw money.” You can access the document titled ‘Startup University’s Phantom Faculty’ here.

Now, what manner of person is the President of the CGU, Dr. Tim Howard? CGU was registered as a for-profit organization in Tallahassee, Florida on October 12, 2011 with 3 people as directors and officers namely Ponce Carlos (Director), Tim Howard (Registered Agent) and Ankhu Mehta (Officer). So the University is barely 3 years old and you wonder what kind of reputation it must have garnered in its 3 years of existence.

In addition, Tim Howard runs a law firm called Howard & Associates based in Florida. In the picture taken together with Prince Buruji Kashamu, the third person (apart from Tim Howard and the Prince himself) was Ankur Mehta, the Director of Graduate Program Operations of CGU. Curiously, the same Ankur Mehta is also the Director of Litigation Division at Howard & Associates according to his LinkedIn profile. He has been working for Howard & Associates since August 2010. In the picture, he is described as ‘Dr’ but his LinkedIn profile indicates that he is expecting his Doctor of Juridicial Science in 2016 from – hold on – the same Cambridge Graduate University. So where did he get his ‘Dr’ from?

Finally, I think a University where the student has to send an email personally to the President of the University to confirm wire transfer of funds is not one to be taken seriously. Is there no Bursar or anyone handling Finance or accounts? Is this strictly a one-man show? See the payment information extracted from the university website FAQ page below:

“Send an email to the President of Cambridge Graduate University ( president@cguglobal.net), to confirm that your wire transfer was received. Include the following information:

–Your Name
–U.S. Dollar amount wired to Cambridge Graduate University
–Approximate date of the wire transfer
–Student the funds are to apply towards
–Purpose of the wire transfer (registration deposit, admission deposit, tuition deposit, etc.)”

I have sent an e-mail to the President of the University, Tim Howard requesting for information on the authenticity and genuineness of the award, why the award given to Prince Buruji Kashamu was conferred in Lagos, Nigeria and if that is the normal practice but there is no response yet. I do hope I get one.

And there you have it.

Credit: Abimbola Adeyinka

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