2 Investigates: Chancellor changes online bio after resume questioned

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - The Chancellor of California Community Colleges, the largest higher education system in the nation, is facing criticism for, what some consider, overstating his educational experience on his resume.

In his online biography, Brice Harris included "his post-doctoral study" at Harvard University's Institute of Educational Management, but now some say that's stretching the truth.

Called Out by Student

Questions about Harris' resume were first raised at the Community Colleges Board of Governors meeting in March. City College of San Francisco student Keith Kimber, who also attends Harvard's extension school, said the Institute which Harris attended is not a true "postdoc" program.

"The Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences... is specific about the definition of a 'postdoc' and that requires somebody to actually conduct and publish research," Kimber told the board.

A few days after that meeting, 2 Investigates discovered Harris changed his bio on the California Community Colleges website, removing the term "post-doctoral study."

"It's a deliberate misrepresentation," said Kimber.

Harvard University confirmed Harris attended the Institute of Educational Management, but described it only as a two week professional education program that happens in the summer.

Splitting Hairs?

KTVU asked to speak with Harris, but instead received an email response from the Chancellor's Director of Communications, Paige Marlatt Dorr, who defended Harris' interpretation of post-doctoral study.

"After earning his Ed.D in 1977, he studied at the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University in 1996," wrote Marlatt Dorr.

She went on to write that post-doctoral study is the "plain English definition for the sequence of this advanced academic work."

Others in academia have a different interpretation.

2 Investigates brought the matter to Kellie McElhaney who is a professor at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business and an expert in corporate responsibility.

"I look at CEO's who are carted off in handcuffs for fraud and corruption. This seemed a pretty minor misdemeanor, but then, when you think about it, it is still dishonesty. It is still somebody misrepresenting themselves," said McElhaney. "I would say it's an expansion of the truth or recasting what really was the case in a way to enhance his credibility."

Board Silent

When KTVU asked whether there's been any further discussion of the matter with the Board of Governors, Marlatt Dorr wrote:

"Chancellor Harris informed the board that he is a stickler for detail in his resume and invited any board member who had a question about his resume to contact him. No one has."

Vice Chancellor Paul Feist confirmed the board isn't pursuing the matter.

"The board has not discussed it or expressed any concerns whatsoever other than couple of them expressing incredulity that you think this is a story," wrote Feist to KTVU's Eric Rasmussen.

While McElhaney advises Harris to "own it and move on," she says the issue deserves attention.

"You can't overlook it because typically where there's one indiscretion, there are often more," she said.