Tag Archives: qualifications fraud

An Open Letter To Columbia University

A number of years ago, I started this blog to warn people about a fake academic called Daniel Cassidy who invented a large number of fake “Irish” expressions and pretended that they were the origins of American slang terms. He taught at the New College of California and founded a festival called the Irish-American Crossroads Festival in San Francisco.

A couple of years after I started the blog, I found out from his sister that Daniel Cassidy had no degrees or qualifications. He attended Cornell University for a few years but was kicked out of that institution in his final year without a degree. I know that to be the case because when I approached Cornell, they readily supplied me with that information.

Cassidy’s sister informs me that he never received a degree of any kind from Columbia. I have tried on a number of occasions to get confirmation of this from Columbia. I have written letters (which have never been answered), I put another open letter up here. Again, no reply.

The 16th Irish-American Crossroads Festival has just begun in San Francisco. You can go on the website of this festival and find the following dishonest statement:

Cassidy grew up in Brooklyn, and was shaped by the world that he encountered there.  His career was rich and varied.  He started his education at Columbia University, and went on to get a Masters in History at Cornell.

As we have stated before, Cassidy studied for his primary degree at Cornell, but failed to graduate. He never went to Columbia. I have pointed this out to the authorities at Columbia before. The organisers of this festival are associating Columbia with the greatest fraudster and liar in the history of Irish America. They are using claims that the founder of the festival had a qualification from Columbia to pretend that that founder was a serious and genuine scholar.

You would think that the least an institution like Columbia would do on being informed that a festival is using false claims of a Columbia degree to bolster the sagging reputation of its founder is to issue a statement denying that he had any degrees from Columbia. (To help you check, his full name was Daniel Patrick Cassidy and he was born on the 26th of April, 1943.) Or perhaps even to send a cease and desist letter to stop that festival from lying about its founder’s links to their university.

Anyway, here is yet another open letter, designed to goad Columbia University into taking this matter seriously. I don’t hold out much hope that they will do the right thing (they’ve never bothered before) but at least I’m continuing to do the right thing – and that really matters to me! This man was an appalling liar who treated the Irish language and Irish culture with supreme disrespect and no decent academic institution would want to be associated with him.

A Victimless Crime?

Recently, we found out that the late ‘Professor’ Daniel Cassidy, a lecturer in Irish Studies at the now defunct New College of California and author of an appalling and almost completely fictional book called How The Irish Invented Slang did not have a degree from Cornell, as is currently claimed on his Wikipedia biography. His sister Susan tipped us off and the fact that he failed to graduate was then confirmed by the registrar at Cornell, Cassie Dembosky. Some sources claim that he had a degree from Columbia University and I have contacted the registrar there to see whether or not Cassidy gained any qualifications from them. As only a few sources even mention Columbia and the details are garbled, I doubt whether there is any substance to these claims either. (For example, on the Irish Crossroads Festival website it says that he had a degree from Columbia and a Master’s in History from Cornell. It seems highly unlikely that Cornell would have given him a postgrad after he was kicked out of his undergrad studies there and most sources don’t even mention Columbia.) His sister also says that it was his brother Michael who studied at Columbia, not Daniel Cassidy.

I have also contacted the registrar at San Francisco State, where it is claimed Cassidy taught before he was given his Professorship at New College of California. I will post any further news here as it arrives. However, while we’re waiting for clarifications, it seems timely to anticipate some of the things that Cassidy’s supporters might have to say about these revelations in relation to their hero.

Firstly, I’m not expecting any of them to say sorry or accept that they’ve made a mistake. Cassidy’s supporters are far too arrogant and smug to apologise. Like Cassidy himself, most of these people seem to be of the opinion that they are incapable of making a mistake and that they know better than an ivory tower full of dons and experts.

I’m also sure that some of them will shrug and say that it doesn’t matter. After all, some people thought that Cassidy was a great teacher and nobody realised that he didn’t have the qualifications a professor is supposed to have. So where’s the harm?

Well, it doesn’t take a genius to work out where the harm is. Maybe Cassidy seemed competent but the book suggests he had no idea about methodology or genuine research. And even if he was very able and a great lecturer, so what? I believe in equality of opportunity. If a person meets the criteria for a job and has better experience and skills and qualifications than the other candidates, they should be given the post, regardless of their colour or sexual orientation or whether they have the approbation of the local Grand Poo-Bah of the Orange Order. When people lie about their qualifications, what right do they have to lecture others about ethical and decent behaviour?

After all, suppose that Cassidy earned a salary of 50,000 dollars a year at NCC for a period of twelve years as a professor. And let’s assume that even in a badly-run and nepotistic outfit like NCC he wouldn’t have been given a professorship with no qualifications. That’s six hundred thousand dollars that went to Cassidy when it should have gone to someone with appropriate qualifications. This is a white-collar crime and didn’t involve violence but is it really so much better in moral terms than walking into a bank with a fake gun and stealing sixty thousand dollars?

The law still calls it theft. In 2014, a Professor of Business Studies at Polk State called David Scott Broxterman, 55, was arrested and charged with grand theft over $100,000 and cheating. That figure was based on his earnings for the job for which he was unqualified. The State Attorney’s Office said he submitted fake transcripts to Polk State claiming he earned a doctorate degree from the University of South Florida in 2007 and that he displayed a forged diploma in his office. Apparently the diploma was badly produced, with a signature from USF President Judy C. Genshaft that should have been Judy L. Genshaft, the wrong color and placement of the USF seal and the word “Board” misspelled “Baord.” Broxterman was a popular teacher and had an overall rating of 4.9 out of 5 on the popular website ratemyprofessor.com.

The only real difference between Broxterman and Cassidy is that Cassidy got away with it for a lot longer. That, and the fact that Broxterman actually had some genuine qualifications!