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CREDENTIALS OF NEW COLLEGE CHIEF RAISE EYEBROWS IN IDAHO FALLS

The newly hired president of the Idaho Falls Institute of Arts and Technology confused college board members when he told them he got his doctorate from the University of Berkley.

They thought former Utah Valley State College administrator Ted Carpenter meant the University of California at Berkeley, one of the top schools in the country.His degree actually is from a non-accredited correspondence school that has been shut down in Illinois and is under investigation by the Michigan Department of Education. Michigan officials call it a "diploma mill."

"I have always been led to believe that it was Cal Berkeley," said Tom Setter, chairman of the institute's board of directors.

Meanwhile, a 1993-94 UVSC catalog, prepared from job application materials, says Carpenter has a doctorate from the University of Idaho in plant science when he actually has a master's degree in science.

Carpenter said he had no idea the wrong information was printed in the Utah college catalog. "I never saw that," he said, "so I'm not responsible for it."

Carpenter said people often confuse the University of Berkley with the University of California at Berkeley. But on Wednesday he said he never claimed to hold a doctorate from the famous school.

Setter said the institute's board may discuss Carpenter's credentials at Thursday's board meeting.

The University of Berkley has a post office box in Southfield, Mich., which the Michigan Department of Education has been trying to close down. The school also lists a Chicago telephone number in advertisements and a Pennsylvania phone number in its program catalog.

"It's a phony," said David Hansen, with Higher Education Management Services at the Michigan Education Department. "It's a diploma mill."

The University of Berkley advertises its "non-traditional degree programs" in the classified section of USA Today. Carpenter said he saw the college advertised in Fortune magazine and assumed it was a new college and therefore not yet accredited.

He enrolled last November or December and finished in June. But he said his doctorate represents 20 years of work.

"I've been working on a Ph.D. part time, intermittently since 1975," while working in a variety of administrative positions, Carpenter said.

The University of Berkley, affiliated with The Society of God, has no residency requirements, time restrictions or entrance tests. Students develop their own curriculum and pick their own degrees. They automatically earn 20 credits for "examining their life in detail" and filling out the "lifetime education/experiential assessment portfolio."

After completing the final "commensurate ability project," which may take the form of a traditional dissertation, a poem or a community service project, students round out their degree programs by critiquing their life, work and final project.

Fees at the University of Berkley range from $1,900 for a bachelor's degree to $3,800 for a complete set of undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Efforts to reach University of Berkley officials through their advertised phone numbers were unsuccessful.