Columbia Pacific University

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For the record, no university educational functions or any other institutional functions are currently taking place or are intended to take place [on the property].
—Les Carr[1]

Columbia Pacific University (CPU) was a totally unaccredited diploma mill which happily allowed creationist teachings, until California shut it down in 1997.

Accreditation removal[edit]

In 1995, the Council for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education (CPPVE) found that CPU failed California academic accreditation regulations on 88 points. In particular (ellipses in original):

  • One master's-degree student was given credit for "a learning contract describing how he would continue taking dance lessons and watch dance demonstrations in order to improve his skills as a Country Western dancer."
  • A Ph.D. dissertation written in Spanish was approved by four faculty who cannot speak the language.
  • One dissertation "had no hypothesis, no data collection, and no statistical analysis. A member of the visiting committee characterized the work as more like a project paper at the college freshman level. The dissertation, The Complete Guide to Glass Collecting, was 61 pages long."
  • At least nine students who received the Ph.D. degree in 1994 had been enrolled less than 20 months, four of them less than 12.

The state's case summarizes the university's alleged violations of the Education Code by noting there is "not even a semblance of compliance with the statutes which govern such institutions. The curriculum had no substance behind its lofty description; faculty was virtually non-existent; course work was laughable […] degree requirements were routinely ignored[.]"[1]

CPU submitted a response with 86 supposed "Errors of Fact". "Error of Fact" 27 argued the supposed lack of "evidence of competency in statistical research" was irrelevant because "many dissertations do not require statistical analysis". (Not at CPU, certainly.) In "Error of Fact" 28 and 31 argued that the Spanish Ph.D. dissertation was acceptable because the student had "provided an authenticated English translation" and had been working with a Spanish-fluent mentor in Venezuela. How this resolves the issue is uncertain.[2]

Nevertheless, CPPVE ruled to close the school. In the lawsuit, Deputy Attorney General Asher Rubin blasted CPU as "a diploma mill which has been preying on California consumers for too many years," calls CPU a "phony operation" that offers "totally worthless [degrees] … to enrich its unprincipled promoters."[1] CPU administrators appealed the decision,[2] but in 1999, the Marin County Superior Court ordered that CPU shut down and fined CPU $10,000 for its "deceptive and unfair practices".[3]


Ronald Numbers wrote that CPU was:

an unaccredited correspondence school that recruited students with the lure of a degree "in less than a year." Slusher's dissertation consisted of a manila folder containing copies of five mimeographed ICR "technical monographs" and a copy of the ICR graduate school catalog, all held together with a rubber band. The supervising professor was his creationist colleague from El Paso and the ICR, Thomas Barnes, who himself possessed only an honorary doctorate.[4]

In other words, CPU creationist education (predictably) mirrors creationist "peer review" in creationist pseudojournals for its total lack of rigor.

Notable alumni[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Paul Neimann, Chileno doctor in trouble over 'phony' university. Archived from via Point Reyes Light, 24 December 1997.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Columbia Pacific University, Response to the report of the Visiting Committee. Archived from, 15 November 1995.
  3. Diploma Mills; Federal Employees Have Obtained Degrees from Diploma Mills and Other Unaccredited Schools, Some at Government Expense, Statement of Robert J. Cramer, Managing Director Office of Special Investigations, U.S. General Accounting Office, Testimony Before the Committee on Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate, May 11, 2004
  4. Ronald Numbers, The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1991).
  5. Message from our CEO., retrieved on 8 October 2018.
  6. About Dr. Bob Marshall, PhD., retrieved on 8 October 2018.