Matt's Degree from Iowa State

968 Larpenteur Avenue West   Saint Paul, Minnesota   55113-6550     (651) 592-0171 mobile

Bachelor of Science in Science and Humanities with Majors in Economics and Industrial Administration, 24 May 1980
My Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University in Economics and Industrial Administration. Nowadays, Industrial Administration would be called Business.

Why do I show a photo of my ISU degree here? Because apparently just over half of résumés have lies on them, and around a fifth "state fraudulent degrees". I've had direct experience of this in a couple of ways.

While working at ALLIED Group doing the venture capital work, we pulled out of a deal when it transpired that one of the principals of the company had lied about having a degree from Michigan State. I called the MSU Registrar myself as part of the routine background work we did on any prospective investment. I was so surprised at the answer that I had another person call separately just to make sure. When it turned out that he hadn't earned a degree and had lied about it, we chose to back away from the investment. You don't know what other character issues might be lurking behind something like that.

But here's a possibility: Later, as I relate in my Annotated Résumé, the sales of the Hercules Funds for which I was COO collapsed when the Piper Jaffray brokers got very angry with a Piper Capital money manager named Worth Bruntjen. He was an all star manager of a top-performing billion dollar fund, until it suddenly dropped about 25%. It was supposed to be safe, conservative, A-rated government securities rather than a bucket of unpriceable derivative slop. Lawsuits, settlements and SEC actions followed. Among the SEC findings was this line:

The SEC also found that the portfolio manager falsely stated in numerous Form ADVs, marketing materials, speeches, articles and employment applications that he had received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with honors from the University of Minnesota.  (emphasis mine)

His Institutional fund and associated fallout cost Piper tens of millions of dollars. And, while Hercules might well have struggled on its own (domestic investment returns were about to outstrip international returns for five years straight, right up until the dotcom crash in March 2000), the waters were poisoned while Hercules was still in its infancy.

Would finishing off that degree have made a difference? I doubt it, if by "a difference" you mean one more class in investment risks would have opened his eyes. It's not like having a degree makes you suddenly smart; people as varied as Bill Gates and my mom have done very well without them. What does make a difference is the persistent untruth. If you would lie about your degree, what other trouble might you get into? In this case, it was lots.

And so I posted a photo of my degree from Iowa State. But you know what? If I were doing due diligence on me, and I saw this, I'd still call the Registrar to confirm for myself. Who knows what headaches might be avoided if it turns out not to be true?

Page last updated 1/31/2014

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