Diploma purchased by I-Team apparently recalled

Wednesday was supposed to be my graduation day -- the day I would get my Ph.D. from Ashley University.

I registered 10 days ago, paid about $600, and was told my diploma was in the mail. But then, things got more complicated.

Ashley University has a slick website, complete with testimonials from people it says are its professors.

But dig a little deeper, and there is no way to contact those professors by phone or email. Their profile pictures appear to be stock photos widely available on the Internet, and there's no information on their teaching, research or qualifications.

When I called Ashley's 800 number, I was told I would receive a Ph.D. in political science in the mail without any proof I ever attended college.

Then, the I-Team received a surprise email from Ashley. Our $648 payment was refunded, which was something the I-Team never requested.

On Monday, the diploma was shipped from an office building in Richmond, Virginia. On Tuesday, UPS tracking showed it had travelled from Richmond, to Stratford, Connecticut. On Wednesday morning, the diploma was shipped from Stratford to Warwick.

It was en route to the I-Team when the sender suddenly recalled the package with no explanation.

But another local Ashley alumna apparently received her diploma.

Nancy Stevenin resigned from the Providence School District on Monday after the I-Team revealed her bachelor's degree also came from Ashley University. Her administration job paid $94,000 a year and the job posting said "bachelor's degree mandatory."

Superintendent Susan Lusi said Stevenin used the diploma as part of her application. But the school district did not look into Ashley University, confirm Stevenin's graduation date or ask for transcripts.

"She submitted the degree, but no, we did not go back and check the university itself," Lusi said.

The school district says job requirements and checks on credentials will be tightened up going forward.

The district said 50 other people applied for Stevenin's job. The I-Team requested a list of those names, and we're waiting for the district's response.