Monterey Institute Review Finds Workshop Leader Misrepresented His Academic Credentials
MIIS Has Been Cooperating with Other Affected Organizations and Law Enforcement
Monterey, CA – The Monterey Institute of International Studies announced today that it has concluded its review of issues regarding former workshop instructor Bill Hillar with the finding that Hillar misrepresented his academic credentials to the Institute.
Hillar, who over the past decade has been contracted by government and non-profit agencies, as well as educational institutions across the country to lecture and lead workshops, claimed in a resume and biographical sketch submitted to the Institute to be "a retired colonel of the U.S. Army Special Forces" and to have earned a Ph.D. at the University of Oregon.
The Institute's review found that Mr. Hillar had not earned a Ph.D. at the University of Oregon, and the Institute has been unable to obtain any military records that substantiate Hillar's claims regarding his military service. Hillar has not responded to requests from the Institute to provide supporting documentation for the credentials claimed on his resume.
Hillar was initially contracted with to lead a 15-hour, three-day, one-credit workshop at the Institute in spring 2005, and has led one workshop per semester since then. He most recently led a workshop on human trafficking on October 8th through 10th. Because Hillar never applied for a position as a faculty member at the Institute, serving only as an independent contractor retained to lead a single three-day workshop per semester, he was not subject to the pre-employment background checks that the Institute requires of all employees, including all faculty and adjunct faculty.
Workshop instructors who are independent contractors typically come to the attention of the academic administration through recommendations from students or faculty, and a resume, proposed syllabus, and a list of references would generally be considered sufficient for retention of an independent contractor. The Institute believes this is a fairly typical process among higher education institutions across the country when retaining instructors on very short-term contracts to lead two- or three-day workshops.
However, as a result of this incident, the Institute has extended the requirement for a full pre-engagement background check to any person who provides classroom instruction for academic credit at the Monterey Institute, regardless of their employment status. This change in policy is effective immediately.
In addition, the Institute will offer to every student who has taken a workshop led by Hillar at the Monterey Institute two options. Affected students who met the academic requirements of the workshop may choose to allow the credit to stand on their academic record. Alternatively, they may request that the credit from the workshop be removed from their academic record, in which case they will be offered the opportunity to enroll in another one-credit workshop offered by the Institute at no additional cost. The Institute is in the process of identifying a qualified instructor to lead a human trafficking workshop in the spring 2011 semester, and will work to make this workshop available both on-site and online.
"For the past two weeks we have been engaged in a proactive, intensive effort to look into this matter," said Monterey Institute President Sunder Ramaswamy. "We believed it was essential to gather as much information as possible in order to get at the truth before arriving at any conclusions publicly. We have been engaged in extensive research and information-sharing with similarly affected institutions, and active cooperation with law enforcement and other appropriate agencies."
The public record suggests that a substantial number of agencies and institutions across the country, including law enforcement and other government agencies, non-profits, and educational institutions, have been similarly affected by Mr. Hillar's actions.
"Nonetheless," stated Ramaswamy, "The ultimate responsibility for the quality and integrity of the instruction received at the Monterey Institute rests with us. We deeply regret this incident and offer our sincere apologies to the students, alumni, faculty, and staff who have been affected by it. We also want to express our profound gratitude to the students who brought these issues to the administration's attention. We are very proud of the integrity they have displayed through their actions."
The Institute's 11 degree programs include master's degrees in international policy studies and nonproliferation and terrorism studies, as well as international business, international environmental policy, and language translation, interpretation, and teaching. Most regular courses at the Institute are worth four credits and last through a full 15-week semester. Workshops are one-credit, 15-hour electives that are typically completed over a single weekend, and are not normally required in order to complete a degree. Currently, most workshops at the Institute are led by regular or adjunct faculty.