JANUARY 22, 2008
Officials at a major public university in the northeast actually rewrote records to award the governor’s daughter a graduate degree when in fact she never finished the courses required to obtain it.
When the daughter of West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin was promoted to chief operating officer of a major drug company, a local newspaper made a routine call to verify her credentials. They included an executive master of business administration degree from the state’s flagship college, West Virginia University.
It turns out that Governor Manchin’s daughter, Heather Bresch, completed only half of the credits needed to earn the degree she said she got in 1998. The university initially said Bresch never obtained the degree, but reversed itself days later when the governor’s daughter insisted she did and evidently applied pressure on school officials.
The politically connected executive had her academic record rewritten within days. Six classes were actually added to her record and grades were awarded for two other classes for which she had received incompletes. Former classmates have collaborated that Bresch left school before finishing.
Now the head of the agency that gives final accreditation to the university’s business school has asked for a much-needed independent investigation into the controversy. Besides being the governor’s daughter, Bresch’s boss is one of West Virginia University’s largest donors ($20 million in the last few years alone). He is also a major campaign contributor to Manchin, a Democrat.
So far, both the governor and his daughter have refused to comment on the scandal. Additionally, Bresch has refused the media’s repeated requests for her graduate school transcripts. Another interesting note is that the university’s president, Mike Garrison, is a high school classmate of Bresh’s and a longtime friend of the Manchin family. Clearly, we can’t expect him to conduct a thorough and objective investigation.
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