Politics & Government

March 20, 2014

House Speaker Thom Tillis forced to correct college credentials

House Speaker Thom Tillis is facing questions in his U.S. Senate bid about whether he inflated his college credentials.

House Speaker Thom Tillis is facing questions in his U.S. Senate bid about whether he exaggerated his college credentials.

The Republican’s LinkedIn page and his legislative website listed his alma mater as the University of Maryland-College Park. But he never graduated from the school.

Instead, he received a degree in 1997 from University of Maryland University College, an accredited online institution affiliated with the state’s university system.

Campaign spokesman Jordan Shaw said that other people put together the two websites and “made just a simple, common mistake.”

“It’s just a simple mix-up,” he said. “The speaker has never tried to mislead anybody about where he went to college.”

The discrepancy was first reported Thursday by Talking Points Memo, an online political publication. A University of Maryland University College official told TPM that the two schools are often confused, even though it has operated independently from the flagship College Park university since the 1970s.

Since the questions were first raised, the two websites were corrected, Shaw said.

But those are not the only instances in which Tillis is listed as having graduated from the University of Maryland.

In an April 2012 radio interview, Tillis told “Carolina Newsmakers” host Don Curtis about his background saying he went to the “University of Maryland.”

“I was a partner at Pricewaterhouse before I got my four year degree. I graduated from University of Maryland, 1996, or ’97 actually,” Tillis said in the interview as he talked about higher education.

University of Maryland also is listed as his alma mater in the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research guidebooks to the legislative session, a well-respected source that includes lawmaker biographies, going back to 2007 when Tillis was first elected to the N.C. House.

Ran Coble, who helps assemble the book, said the information is gathered from the lawmakers’ websites and local media reports. A draft profile is sent to each lawmaker for review ahead of publication. “We ask them to make any corrections and that’s the fail-safe in the end,” he said.

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