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Massachusetts Reviewing Online Degree

November 12, 2003

BOSTON (AP) _ The state Department of Public Health is investigating why the veteran head of the agency’s laboratory obtained a doctorate for $499 from an online ``school″ that offers no classes.

Ralph Timperi had been signing e-mails in recent weeks with a notation indicating he held a doctorate awarded in September by online Trinity Southern University. But he said he has since renounced the degree.

``Maybe you could say I was naive, but I truly believed what had been sent to me was valid,″ Timperi, 60, told The Boston Globe.

Trinity Southern has no classes, requires no dissertation and promises to award a doctorate in 72 hours for $499. Applicants for degrees must ``submit a detailed self-evaluation″ that is then evaluated by registrars, according to Trinity Southern’s Web site.

In an e-mail response to a Globe query, A.S. Poe, dean of admissions and vice chancellor of Trinity Southern, said degrees are awarded to ``worthy individuals who have the same or better knowledge of a recent college graduate″ based on their work experience and courses taken elsewhere.

Timperi said he sent about 10 pages of information detailing his resume and related material about his accomplishments in the field of epidemiology over four decades.

``I felt that all the reasons I was getting awarded this from a legal accrediting body was based on all of the blood and sweat and tears and years that I had put in during my life, not that I was buying it,″ said Timperi, who has run the agency’s lab for 15 years.

Department spokeswoman Roseanne Pawelec said the agency will review Timperi’s actions.

``We pride ourselves on our integrity and our credibility,″ said Pawelec.

Timperi is also holds an adjunct professorship _ a relatively low-level, part-time post _ at Harvard University. University spokeswoman Robin Herman declined to discuss his case.

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