Photo above: Mr. McMahon offered sharp critisism to Peralta and Dr. Gravenberg. Photo from Peralta Board of Trustees meeting February 25 2014.

Controversy and discontent arose when it was discovered that the Interim President of the College of Alameda, Dr. Eric V. Gravenberg, possibly owns an illegitimate PhD. Back in 2010 Dr. Gravenberg was listed in Degree Mills, a book about the industry of fake diplomas and colleges. His name was included in the chapter titled, “Time Bombs, People with Fake Degrees.” A suitable title, seeing now that his credentials are under the microscope and are causing some uproar.

Dr. Gravenberg received his PhD from Columbus University, which is located in the state of Louisiana. Upon visiting the address of Columbus University you probably wouldn’t see a student or professor in sight. That’s because, according to reports, it’s a bogus address, and is instead the location of a martial arts dojo.

The man behind it all, Michael O’Keefe Sr., a retired state senator who is reported to have been giving instructions to Dr. Mary Martin, is the school’s director. He’s been doing so while serving a 19 year sentence in Butner federal prison for stealing from a failed insurance company.
One important fact is that Dr. Gravenberg technically doesn’t need a PhD in order to serve as the president of the College of Alameda. The requirements are only that you have a bachelors and masters degree, both of which he obtained from Chico State University in Northern California, a legitimate institution. His doctorate degree definitely gave him an unfair advantage in the application process, however. The scary part is that those responsible for hiring Dr. Gravenberg took no notice that his degree was from an unaccredited university.


The College of Alameda, courtesy of the Peralta website.

At the Feb. 25 Board of Trustee’s meeting in the District Office Boardroom across the street from Laney College, a man named Mr. McMahon, a career educator, boldly stated his opinion on the hiring of the interim president of Alameda. One important fact he raised is the importance of credibility in academia and the trust that Peralta is breaking in hiring Gravenberg. “There’s no greater sin in academia than to violate the public trust, and one of the ways you violate academic trust, is you falsify your credentials.”

Later in his statement Mr. McMahon makes a comparison to how schools expect students not to cheat and take the easy way around, yet they’re hiring a man who has allegedly done so. Mr. McMahon wasn’t able to say everything he had planned, due to his mic being cut off when his time ran out, but he raised some important questions about Peralta’s credibility after this event.

Despite possibly having a bogus degree it can’t be said that Dr. Gravenberg isn’t capable of serving as president of the College of Alameda. He’s worked in education for 38 years, serving in leadership roles at major universities such as CSU Sacramento, Howard University and UC Riverside. He’s also been known for being engaged with community affairs and has even volunteered his time to mentor college and highschool students in the past.

I think that would probably make for a great President of the College of Alameda. But if he has cheated,well, then as Mr. McMahon stated, in the world of academia trust is everything.


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