Does State Health Plan Executive Administrator Jack Walker have a bogus PhD?

Jack Walker, the executive administrator of the North Carolina State Health Plan, lists on the SHP website that he has a PhD in “Administration and Management.” Walker lists PhD after his name on SHP handouts and on PowerPoint presentations. During presentations at the General Assembly legislators call him “Dr. Walker.”

But Walker’s doctorate is from Columbia Pacific University, and, no, that’s not the California branch of the Ivy League institution in New York City. Columbia Pacific University, or CPU, was a short-lived, never accredited correspondence school in California that was closed by court order in 2000. CPU operated legally for a time but then California adopted stricter standards for schools located within its borders and ordered CPU to close.

I doubt many people would actually include a CPU degree on their resume, but the school did appear in a U.S. General Accounting Office report entitled Diploma Mills: Federal Employees Have Obtained Degrees from Diploma Mills and Other Unaccredited Schools, Some at Government Expense. That report noted that a National Nuclear Security Administration employee:

received a PhD in engineering administration in 1985 from Columbia Pacific University, an unaccredited school. He performed course work required for a PhD at George Washington University, a fully accredited school, but did not complete a dissertation. Employee #3 claims to have completed a dissertation for Columbia Pacific University but did not attend classes or complete any coursework at that school. In December 1999, the Marin County Superior Court ordered Columbia Pacific University to cease operations within California. The court determined that Columbia Pacific failed to meet various requirements for issuing PhD degrees, awarded excessive credit based on life experience, and failed to employ duly qualified staff.

The state of Michigan includes CPU on its list of “colleges and universities from which degrees will not be accepted by the Michigan Civil Service Commission;” the state of Oregon does not allow the use of degrees from CPU; and the state of Texas puts CPU on its “fraudulent or substandard degree” list. In these three states improper use of a CPU degree is a misdemeanor. Several other states restrict the use of CPU degrees.

The fact that Walker advertises his “PhD” so liberally is important not only because he is misleading the state. A doctorate denotes some level of expertise in a topic and Walker uses the credential to imbue his opinions with added authority in front of the General Assembly.

Also, Walker’s degree from a school that some states label fraudulent raises the question of why North Carolina hired him out of retirement. By any measure his previous tenure at the State Health Plan was rocky. Now our state needs a long-term solution to help check rising costs at the State Health Plan without simply cutting benefits and we turn to a retired administrator with a “doctorate” from an unaccredited, shuttered school. Taxpayers, and especially current and former state employees, deserve better.

And North Carolina deserves better than a State Health Plan administrator who derives his authority from a fake degree.


  1. Jack Lang

    March 9, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    This guy is an embarassment, clearly.
    It is time to go, Jack Walker, Ph. D (sic).

  2. Eugene Barufkin

    March 9, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    When will our esteemed governor sign an executive order for an audit of SHP? I suggest three NC departments should use their respective expertise, to assure the audit will be looked at from different perspectives.
    The Departments of Insurance, Treasury and the state Auditor.
    How many people feel it will help if hundreds people call the Governor’s office AND numerous members of our General Assembly
    to ask for an audit?

    NC Policy is doing a great job.
    Thanks Chris.

  3. Show Us The Jobs

    March 10, 2009 at 6:27 am

    hmmmm….Hope this issue is raised at the next meeting of the House and Senate committes that have oversight responsibilities for the State Health Plan

  4. KAS

    March 10, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Why does a man with a bogus PHd deserve to be paid $200,000/yr for doing nothing but making matters worse for those of us state employees who earned our degrees but still struggle with our salaries which we originally accepted under the premise that we woudl have job security and a decent health plan

  5. […] reason I began looking into the validity of Jack Walker’s PhD is not because it’s criminal to get a mail order degree. But when […]


    March 18, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Time to fire this sorry phoney!!!!!

    What a rotten imposture this “doctor” is. Not only should he be immediately terminated but he should also reimburse the State of North Carolina for the “doctoral salary” he has received from his very beginning employment, early in this decade. People like this creep represents yet another example of those in high places (NC Senate) not doing the proper examinations, prior to implementation in vital areas.

    Maybe we have our own AIG-type situation and just haven’t discovered it yet; time will tell!!!! I bet we do!

  7. […] I grew up, the state that I love, would hire a State Health Plan Executive Administrator with a bogus PhD when North Carolina has some of the greatest health administrators and policy minds in the […]

  8. Paul Hartal

    March 30, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Unfortunately your commentary on Columbia Pacific University (CPU) misinforms the public. Please consult the CPU websites for accurate information.

    http://netnotes.altcpualumni.org, or http://www.altcpualumni.org,

    CPU was never a diploma mill but a pioneer of distance education. Its closure resulted from the dirty politics of higher education in California, not from genuine pedagogical considerations. CPU was supervised and accredited (”approved”) by the State of California. More than 7000 graduates earned well-deserved academic degrees from CPU between 1978 and 1997. Their degrees are legal and valid.

    CPU alumni are proud of their academic accomplishments. Hundreds of them teach at established universities and colleges, or work in research, industry and government. At present CPU is a federally recognized non-profit educational institution.. The CPU Press just published a book by Dr. A. W. Jang and W. Weston, The La Brea Tar Pi.

    For a short list of distinguished CPU alumni, please, go to:


    To set the record straight, please, also note:
    Accreditation is a voluntary process in the US. Regional accreditation is not identical with accreditation because there are other forms of legitimate school authorization. The six regional accrediting associations monopolize the academic market, forming in fact a cartel, which the Sherman Act views as a felony. CPU was A California accredited (“approved”) school and its state approval was also recognized by the US Department of Education as equivalent to regional accreditation. CPU graduates (1978-1997) are eligible to sit for the California Bar examination, and for licensure with the Board of Psychology.

    Paul Hartal

    Author: The Brush and the Compass: The Interface Dynamics of Art and Science;
    Doctoral Dissertation, CPU, 1986; published by University Press of America (Lanham, New York, London, 1988) and critically acclaimed.

  9. Paul Hartal

    March 31, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    The 1985 Bear’s Guide, which Wilson Library Bulletin says is “the authoritative guide in the field”, highly recommended Columbia Pacific with the following words:

    Columbia Pacific is the largest university in the United States and one of the largest in the world offering non-resident Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorates. Despite the size, students report an extremely high level of personal attention from the faculty and staff. The faculty numbers more than 400, nearly all with traditional Doctorates. Two former presidents of major accredited universities serve as two of the deans of Columbia Pacific, and their president, Richard Crews, is a prominent psychiatrist with his medical degree from Harvard…. Degrees are offered in dozens of subject areas, including business, administration and management, engineering, psychology, education, holistic health, health sciences administration, architecture, and nutrition. Special programs are created for students wishing to work in specialized areas… Work may be done in almost any language…. The University has two campuses: a million-dollar university-owned urban campus in downtown San Rafael (just north of San Francisco) and a 13-acre North Campus in northern Marin County, with library, student housing and other facilities. There is an office in England, where a special program in travel and tourism is offered jointly with British Air, and where former Prime Minister Harold Wilson is one of many prominent people serving as honorary fellows of the university (Bear, 1985, p. 96).

    Bear concluded his detailed review of CPU with the following recommendation:

    No other non-resident doctorate-granting institution has a staff with the credentials, reputation, and experience of Columbia Pacific. Many major universities, including Harvard, Yale and Princeton have expressed a willingness to accept C.P.U. degrees. Hundreds of C.P.U. alumni have written me (more than from any other school) to praise the very personal approach, the valuable learning experience, and the usefulness of their degrees (1985, p. 96).

    Bear also rates schools from 1-5 (5 being fully regionally accredited), Columbia was rated a 4, which meant it was given the authority by “the superintendent of public instruction of the state of California” to award the degrees they offered. In other words, it was accredited by the state of California. Among other things, Full Institutional Approval pursuant to California Education Code Section 94310(b) means: “The course for which the degree is granted achieves its professed or claimed academic objective for higher education, with verifiable evidence of academic achievement comparable to that required of graduates of other recognized schools accredited by an appropriate accrediting commission recognized by the United States Department of Education or the Committee of Bar Examiners for the State of California”. The key word in the clause is ‘comparable’ which is synonymous with the adjectives ‘similar’, ‘matching’ and ‘equivalent’. Almost 50 accrediting bodies exist and for this reason one must specify which accrediting body is of concern. The United States Department of Education recognized CPU as a fully accredited institution, as evidenced by its inclusion in the Higher Education Directory, The HEP, published by Higher Education Publications, Washington, DC, 1984. CPU was also listed in Petterson’s American Education, Vol 82.

    The 1981 edition of Bear’s Guide says the founders and staff of CPU “have, by a wide margin, the most impressive credentials of the people associated with any such school” (1980, p. 49). The school was founded in 1978 by three senior academics, two of whom were former presidents of regionally accredited American universities (see http://www.altepualumni.org). CPU, was the first California approved institution to gain full Institutional Approval in 1986. It now has over 7,500 alumni in 60 countries. When operating it was the largest distance learning institution in America. Bear adds that no other alternative non-residential Doctorate-granting institution has officers who approach the reputation, prestige, and experience of those of C.P.U. I have had more positive, enthusiastic feedback from students and alumni of C.P.U. than from any other school, accredited or not. These people praise the very personal approach, the valuable learning experience, the comparatively low cost, and the value of the degree to them. C.P.U. operates from a large leased building just north of San Francisco and from a 13-acre residential retreat center (with library, student housing, etc.) in Northern Marin County. There is also a residential psychology program in Santa Cruz, and offices in England.

  10. AdamL

    April 1, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Congratulations on your critical acclaim.

    I still haven’t seen where it’s incorrect to call CPU a never accredited school closed by California authorities in 2000. You can launch a war against accreditation but the fact remains that to count education credit for state employment in North Carolina your degree needs to be from a regionally accredited university.

    But take heart, NC is not as harsh as Texas and Oregon where it’s a misdemeanor to list CPU on your resume.

    And it’s great that CPU grads can sit for the bar exam in California. The problem is that Jack Walker doesn’t live in California.

  11. Paul Hartal

    April 1, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    True, Jack Walker doesn’t live in California. However, since a PhD is not a requirement for the job, the defamation attempts at him as State Health Plan Executive Administrator are a mean-spirited political witch-hunt and not a scholarly debate on adult education.

    The court that closed CPU in 2000 also ruled that CPU degrees are legally valid. Today CPU degrees are internationally recognized and they continue to be legally valid in most parts of the US. Founded by former presidents of established American universities, CPU delivered high quality education in accordance with the pedagogical vision of its president, Dr. Richard Crews, the Harvard-trained psychiatrist. In view of the fact that CPU graduates worked hard for their degrees and gained a most valuable educational experience, it is the shame of states like Texas and Oregon that they persecute people for their scholarly accomplishments. Moreover, these states act unconstitutionally because they don’t recognize the authority of California to grant academic degrees. In fact, the Texas law also implies that California is a “fraudulent” state.

    We have to take of course into consideration the realities created by the judicial system. Yet the judicial system is not about truth or justice. It is about power. Furthermore, to call CPU “unaccredited” is a misleading and false characterization . It is like saying that Master Card is not a real credit card because it is not American Express. Accreditation is a voluntary process in the US. It is a fact that CPU was not regionally or nationally accredited. However, there exist other forms of legitimate school authorization as well and CPU was a California State accredited (“approved”) school.

  12. J. B. R.

    April 1, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    When CPU was operating Western Association of Colleges did not accredit any distance learning school. Now hundreds of such schools are. The fact is CPU revolutionized education and hundreds of schools use their model. Their closure was very corrupt as anyone who researches their history will soon find out. Do your homework!

  13. GEM

    April 3, 2009 at 11:30 am

    CPU was indeed a pioneer in higher education. They were way ahead of their time. They allowed a wide variety of majors and llowed students to work with (validated) experts (with traditional degrees) close to their home location in many cases. in addition all students had to complete certain core competencies in order to graduate.

    The powers that be did not know what to do with non-traditional schools at that time. They admitted that CPU’s degrees wer ” fully equivalent” t o those from regionally accredited universities. These were the words of the California agency that accredits schools.

    Due to a personal vendetta (according to an inside expert at the state agency that made site visits) CPU was ordered close.

    It was NEVER a diploma mill and degrees gained form CPU are legal and valid.

    It’s interesting that many schhols including Columbia, Harvard, University of Phoenix and others have distance learning programs now. Many schools speacialize in total distance learning-Capella, Nova, Walden and many others.

    This job does not require a PhD, much less one from a regionally accredited college. Dr Walker has not done anything ethically or legally wrong. This is tabloid journalism and the trendy public outrage (based on ignorance and hysteria) gone awry

  14. Adam L

    April 3, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks for writing in CPU grads. But I’ve read the court briefs and decisions and CPU could not even mount a half-competent case in its own defense. The appeals brief filed by CPU was terribly written and did not even include the required appendix. That makes the conspiracy theories pretty hard to believe.

    Claiming that Walker has not done anything ethically wrong is a giant stretch; claiming to have a PhD is just one of his latest unethical acts. He was also cited by a state audit for accepting free gifts and travel from companies in a position to bid on State Health Plan contracts.

    I agree that his job does not require a PhD. And that’s lucky for Walker. If it did require a PhD he would be fired because North Carolina does not accept CPU as a legitimate educational institution.

  15. Paul Hartal

    April 4, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Conspiracy Theories?

    Beyond legality everything is an opinion. So let me point out again that CPU degrees are legally valid, internationally, and in most parts of the US. The persecution of people for learning, namely with CPU degrees, reveals the narrow-mindedness and tunnel vision of politicians and their supporters in certain states.

    So, why was CPU closed? Well, we know what happens to those who dare to confront conservative societies. Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei are famous in this regard. The renowned British scholar, composer and European-American University president John Kersey http://www.johnkersey.org/jk.html observes:

    “Not so long ago, in the mid-1990s, the largest distance-learning university in the USA was a private, independent, non-traditional institution (Columbia Pacific University), which was definitely not a part of the educational establishment and that stood for radical change in almost every aspect of its provision. The mainstream saw to it that CPU was suppressed, closed and posthumously trashed. But the ideas that drove it to success won’t go away, and nor will the people who believe in them”, http://europeanamericanuniversity.blogspot.com

    We have to bear in mind that traditional universities are part of the economic system and monopolists don’t like competition.

    In any case, the prosecutor of CPU, who called it a “diploma mill” at the trials had no expertise in distance learning, and for the nature of his education, please, see his own description:

    Dr. Betty Dow testified in the CPU trials that the CPPVE instructed members of a visiting committee to produce a fabricated report. It was used in the trials to shut down the school,

    CPU underwent successful peer reviews of visiting committees, had full institutional accreditation (“approval”) http://www.altcpualumni.org/chronicles/1986approval.pdf and for the high quality of its educational environment, see for instance this:
    http://www.thedegree.org/henderson.html. In order to understand more the innovative nature of CPU’s educational philosophy and the concept of Competency Education, please, go to http://www.thedegree.org/cer21.html .

    The enforced closing of CPU was based on a untenably erroneous report in most details and independent critics refuted it completely! It contained 86 errors, which rendered it utterly unreliable, http://www.altcpualumni.org/chronicles/cpurespb.pdf . It absurdly claimed, for example, that Dr. Richard Crews, MD (Harvard) was unqualified to serve as CPU president, ignorantly denied the academic validity of academic degrees held by CPU deans from leading German and British universities and falsified the facts regarding a student’s Spanish dissertation.

    For serious and responsible people interested in the real, strange and multi-faceted story of CPU and its closing, please also see Prof. Jerry Bergman’s account
    http://www.rae.org/cpu.html , as well as my article, why the medical establishment does not like CPU http://www.altcpualumni.org/wholisticed/hartal2001.html.

  16. JbMb

    April 6, 2009 at 9:00 am

    In response to “CPU could not even mount a half-competent case in its own defense” this may be true, but is a common problem. I have worked with many attorneys for years and so many, even high priced ones, are not worth their salt. I have no knowledge of Walker, but to slam a school that has played a major role in revolutionizing education and has thousands of graduates, many, if not most, have done very well in their careers, is uncalled for. Last, what is the problem with N.C.? I wonder how many professors teach at their universities with degrees from CPU. I noted a number, whom I will not mention as you may go after them as well. Adam, do you know why CPU was closed? If so please tell us. The reasons the court gave all were clearly bogus and hide the real reasons. If you know them, please inform us.

  17. JbMb

    April 6, 2009 at 9:07 am

    I could add, if CPU was closed due to incompetent attorneys, that says a lot about our broken justice system, which I used to be part of, but decided sleeping at night was more important then making a lot of money. I am now a poor educator but I can now sleep at night. Adam, you need to attack the problem, not CPU.

  18. Paul Hartal

    April 6, 2009 at 11:48 am


    The author of the quotation above on the closing of CPU, posted on the EAU website, is Lew Rockwell, founder of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. I apologize for the omission.


  19. Paul Hartal

    August 6, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    The closing of CPU resulted not from valid educational considerations but from the dirty politics of higher education in California. Mind you, the judicial system is often not about truth and justice but about power and money. Miscarriage of justice is a common phenomenon. CPU was closed on the basis of a fabricated report full of factual errors and insubstantial allegations. For example, it absurdly claimed that Harvard-trained psychiatrist Dr. Richard Crews was unfit to serve as the President of CPU because he was an MD and not a PhD. Another preposterous and prejudiced assertion was directed against the black deans of CPU holding PhDs from well-known European universities. The deans in question were Dr. Ketsela, graduate of the University of Wales, and Dr. Tolossa, graduate of the University of Bremen, [3]. The report falsely alleged that these European universities are unaccredited. There were over 80 errors of fact in the report rendering it completely worthless.

    Error of Fact Number 28: The Spanish Dissertation

    Error of Fact Number 28, for example, has become quite famous and mentioned in a variety of media articles. It concerns a Spanish dissertation that allegedly was approved by faculty who did not speak Spanish. In reality, the CPU faculty mentor who supervised the dissertation worked with the student in Spanish and the doctoral thesis provided Table of Contents, Summary and additional information in English. Moreover, CPU policy changed in early 1995, so that dissertations could be submitted only in English. Documented refutation of all the false claims against CPU has been published on line in “The Chronicles of Columbia Pacific University”, [4]. Please, note that CPU graduates earned their degrees through competency and hard work. Thousands of them teach at accredited schools or work in research, civil service, business and industry.

  20. Paul Hartal

    August 6, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Columbia Pacific University continues to inspire those who are not afraid of progress, of new and innovative ideas. For example, the Amos Bronson Alcott Center for Educational Research at European-American University integrates “Competency Education” by Columbia Pacific University:


  21. Paul Hartal

    August 7, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Please, read carefully:

    “Thousands of them teach at accredited schools or work in research, civil service, business and industry.”

    There are over 7,500 CPU alumni with legally valid CPU degrees.
    They are accomplished professionals working in all levels of education and other fields.

  22. […] greatest offenses, in my opinion, is lying about his PhD. He does not have a PhD from an accredited school. In several states listing Columbia Pacific University (where Walker obtained his bogus […]

  23. Yeshua

    August 10, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Here is an information that may be of interest.

    1) Accreditation in the United States is a voluntary, nongovernmental process, in which an institution and its programs are evaluated against standards for measuring quality.
    This does not necessarily mean that an unaccredited institution is of poor quality, but earning a degree from an unaccredited institution may create problems for students.

    U.S. Ed.gov

    2) “Status Discrimination,” An Unlawful Act
    It is well for the general public to take note: THE ACT OF ACCEPTING A GRADUATE SOLELY BECAUSE THE SCHOOL ATTENDED WAS ACCREDITED OR UNACCREDITED, AND NOT BECAUSE THE ALUMNUS IS QUALIFIED IS DEEMED TO BE AN UNLAWFUL ACT OF PRACTICING “STATUS DISCRIMINATION,” PUNISHABLE UNDER THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, UNDER THE LAWS OF STATES, AND UNDER THE RULES OF THE GENEVA CONVENTION/WORLD COURT AT THE HAGUE. To protect the integrity of higher education and in the interest of fair and impartial competition, such arbitrary discrimination practices should be avoided by employers, employment agencies, licensing bodies, those who seek ‘verification of credentials,’ and all others. CULA urges compliance by all……
    a) http://www.cula.edu/pg.asp?idCategory=102

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