Religious president resigns after report reveals bogus MA

May 23, 2003

The president of a Christian university in the Southern US has resigned after a student journalist assigned to write a profile about him discovered that he had never received his claimed masters degree, writes Jon Marcus.

The student, Joel Elliott, stumbled across the fact that Toccoa Falls College president Donald Young had not received a masters from Fuller Theology Seminary in California, as his CV stated.

Mr Elliott wrote the story for a local newspaper, where he worked part time, and for the campus newspaper at the 96-year-old college in northwestern Georgia that has fewer than 800 students.

Mr Elliott was assigned to write profiles about the institution's past and present presidents and found that there was no CV on file for Mr Young, who uses the title "Dr" because he has an honorary doctorate from Toccoa Falls.

He found that Mr Young had attended the seminary school but had never graduated.

Mr Young said it was an innocent mistake. His secretary, he said, typed up the CV and assumed he had a masters. However, other university publications had made the same claim.

Faculty passed a vote of no confidence, and members of the board of trustees said Mr Young would not have been hired if they had known. Mr Young resigned.

But things have also not been easy for Mr Elliott. At a chapel assembly before Mr Young resigned, the president asked students not to vent their anger on Mr Elliott. Most had not read the story at that stage, but one woman shouted that Mr Elliott was doing the work of Satan. Several students refused to speak to him for a follow-up article.

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