MORGAN -- After discovering Morgan County's embattled former council administrator could have obtained advanced degrees using a diploma mill, the Morgan County attorney is advising employers to question credentials listed on resumes and job applications.
While gathering Garth B. Day's personal belongings in his former office, County Attorney Jann Farris came across Day's bachelor's and master's degree certificates from Rochville University.
"It looked suspicious," Farris said.
Farris' suspicions led him online, where Wikipedia states the university has been accused of being a diploma mill that offers degrees based on life experience and a fee.
Rochville's website at www.rochvilleuniversity.org says "previous work experience, course work, elective classes, and previous credits will be recognized as course credits" after being evaluated by an evaluation committee.
"If you have had professional training or served in the military, you may be able to convert that previous experience into academic credits as well," the website said.
Such claims should be a red flag, said Michael J. Stevens, a professor of management and Weber State University department chairman for business administration.
"All serious, genuine and accredited institutions don't grant a degree for experience," Stevens said.
Day's 2008 resume submitted to Morgan County includes service in the U.S. Navy from 1988 to 1996. The resume also claims job experience mostly in the planning and community development field at Cache County, Box Elder County, Ogden, North Ogden and South Ogden.
His 2008 job application, obtained through a GRAMA request, states that he received a B.S. degree in political science/public administration from Weber State University.
However, although WSU's registrar confirmed Day's attendance at the university from 1992 to 1997, Day never graduated with a degree.
Day entered six guilty pleas in federal court in June and admitted he stole nearly $1 million from Morgan County.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
Rochville University, which operates a website from in Sarasota, Fla., is not listed in the U.S. Department of Education's database of accredited post-secondary institutions.
The university also is not in the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's database of institutions accredited by recognized U.S. accrediting organizations.
Day's Rochville University degrees include a 1998 bachelor of science in urban planning and a 2001 master's of business administration in public administration. Paperwork details a 3.19 GPA for both degrees.
Day also secured a certificate of distinction in environmental sustainability, award of excellence for an urban planning project, and a certificate of membership in the students' council, all dated 1998.
In 2001, he was awarded an award of excellence for a public administration project, a certificate of distinction for outstanding performance in environmental problems, and a certificate of membership in the students' council.
Farris's research uncovered that an online MBA from Rochville University was secured in 2009 for a canine mascot that graduated with a 3.19 grade point average, a certificate of distinction in finance, and a certificate of membership in the student council.
"A dog had the exact same degree and GPA as the Morgan County Council Administrator," Farris said in an email. "Hopefully the county learns from this mistake."
Ken Spencer, CEO of HR Service Inc., said it is not unusual for applicants to exaggerate or stretch the truth in their favor on job applications.
"It is rare that we find people outright lying about where they worked and earned degrees," he said.
"A good background check will include a review of criminal records, verification of work experience and college degrees or certifications."
Stevens agreed, saying, "You expect people to toot their own horn. It happens, and you should be careful."
He said estimates are that up to 40 percent of all resumes and applications have characteristics that could be determined incorrect. Employers should tune into this, he said.
"The higher the risk, the more thorough a background check needs to be. Check (education claims) more carefully if a degree is a big part of your hiring decision," Stevens said.
"Screening and hiring takes more time and rigor than most employers are willing to do.
"Everyone you hire, it's a little bit of a risk. It's a question of how much risk you are willing to take. How much time and money are you willing to spend up front to save risk? Match the level of due diligence to the requirements of the job."