What’s in a Name?

Discussions on the value or merit of unaccredited programs and institutions.

What’s in a Name?

Postby Gus Sainz » Sat Dec 16, 2006 12:09 am

"With new ownership, new management and a new location, Pacific Western University also has plans for a new title — California University. Located in San Diego, Pacific Western is an unaccredited, for-profit institution of distance learning. An official of the university says that it is changing its name because it is linked with past controversies, unlike the new name, which some think will sound a bit too much like the University of California."

"Contacted at his office, Dean Dominic Mwenja said that Pacific Western had incorporated the name 'California University' in 2004. At that time, PWU also operated an institution in Hawaii that shared the same faculty.

Following an investigation by Hawaii’s Office of Consumer Protection, PWU-Hawaii was enjoined from making any claims that it was authorized by the state to confer academic degrees. The university was required to pay $30,000 for the investigation, although the owners did not admit any wrongdoing. PWU-Hawaii no longer exists."

"Alan Contreras, an administrator with the Oregon Office of Degree Authorization, noted that Pacific Western grants many of its degrees to people in Asia, where the distinction between the “University of California” and “California University” will be lost in translation. 'It’s a perfectly rational business decision,' he said of the move by PWU to change its name. 'Because people who see this are going to think it is the UC.' Contreras added that California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education will have to approve the switch in title.

Sheila Hawkins, a program administrator with the bureau, said that the name will probably be approved. 'Based on what I’ve seen so far, there’s nothing to preclude them from calling themselves that,' she said in an e-mail message."

"Meanwhile, newspapers in Korea report that lawmakers and police have opened an inquiry into more than 150 high-ranking national figures who have received degrees at unauthorized foreign colleges. The Korea Times reported that 34 of those individuals received doctorates from Pacific Western. Those officials currently work at the education ministry and an agency affiliated with the Ministry of Science and Technology."

What’s in a Name?
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Postby mattchand » Sat Dec 16, 2006 2:48 am

Geez, this one strikes a bit of a nerve. Many years ago, I'd considered PWU, whose ad I'd seen in a flight magazine or maybe in the back of one of the big news magazines (after all, if a reputable magazine can run an ad for it, it must be legit, right? right? :x ). Fortunately, I was later put onto what was then called Regents College, and in researching that discovered TESC. Discovering the predecessor to this board also enlightened me to the reality of the fact of what PWU and many other such "institutions" truly are (as well as discovering Charter Oak, where I received my BA).

I truly hope that somebody in CA gets a clue and prevents them from using a name like Calfiornia University. In many Asian countries, frankly the issue wouldn't really be "lost in translation"; even in English-medium systems names like "Mumbai University" and "University of Mumbai" are often even legally interchangeable.


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Postby Hungry Ghost » Sat Dec 16, 2006 3:24 am

If Pacific Western does get BPPVE approval to become 'California University', I expect that the real University of California will probably sue to protect their name and identity. UC has a large legal staff and they are very zealous about defending all of their rights and perogatives, real or imagined.

If the courts don't give them satisfaction, then I expect them to have some of their state legislative allies introduce legislation.
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Postby Bill Huffman » Mon Dec 18, 2006 6:01 pm

I was going to drive by their campus over the weekend but forgot. I'll try to do it over the next few days and report back.

The current owner of PWU is apparently activily spreading legal threats around. This is my guess based on the wording change at the ODA and the fact that out of over 1.5 million articles on Wikipedia, PWU is one of only eight articles that are indefinitely protected from open editting. The current owner wants to state that PWU was established in 1977 but apparently doesn't want any of the other historical "baggage" that goes along with it.
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Famous alumni... sort of

Postby SteveFoerster » Mon Dec 18, 2006 8:51 pm

As an aside, when the gang from Beverly Hills 90210 graduated from high school, they all coincidentally decided to attend "California University" and thus the show was miraculously preserved. :D

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