Tillis defends college credentials

Posted March 20, 2014

House Speaker Thom Tillis speaks during a Jan. 29, 2013, news conference to outline the House agenda during the 2013 legislative session.

— Thom Tillis' U.S. Senate campaign said Thursday that the state House speaker did not intend to mislead voters when biographies on several websites listed the wrong University of Maryland division as his alma mater. 

Tillis earned a B.S. in technology management in 1997 from the University of Maryland University College, which describes itself as a "member of the University System of Maryland, UMUC is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, providing credibility and recognition in the job market." The college provides distance learning for those already in the workforce. 

In his latest campaign ad, Tillis talks about going to work before earning his degree

But the Talking Points Memo website reported Thursday that "Tillis' LinkedIn page listed the University of Maryland at College Park as where he got a Bachelor of Science Degree in Technology Management, Technology & Project Management. Similarly on Tillis's biography page on his House Speaker website, Tillis listed the University of Maryland as his alma matter and links to College Park's website."

The University of Maryland at College Park is the University of Maryland's flagship university campus.

Those references have since been corrected online, although TPM provided screen grabs of the original listings. 

Democrats distributing the story seized on the headline that Tillis, the front-runner for the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, had "inflated" his academic credentials. Other leaders in the eight-member field are Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte and Dr. Greg Brannon of Cary. 

"I think it speaks for itself," said Ben Ray, a spokesman for the North Carolina Democratic Party. "The only thing I would say about it is Tillis and Brannon have been fighting all week about who is the least electable, and as this primary season drags on, we're finding out they're both right."

Tillis spokesman Jordan Shaw described the TPM story as a "partisan hit piece" and said it over-played a mistake that many people make. 

"People get the two mixed up all the time," Shaw said. "The people who did the postings on those sites didn't know the difference."

He noted that the websites in question were put together by people other than Tillis.

As for the inference that Tillis was misleading voters, Shaw said, "Speaker Tillis has never misled anyone about his college degrees or his college education ... We talk very openly about the fact he worked to get his degree as an adult." 

In the case of the House Speaker website, Shaw said, that was done by a vendor, not directly by Tillis' state House staff or his Senate campaign. 

"Democrats online are saying that Thom is inflating his college credentials. If that's their argument, are they saying that people like Thom Tillis, who work as an adult, who get their degrees as an adult, are somehow inferior to those who got to university?" Shaw asked.


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  • borealbob1952 Mar 22, 2014

    Did anyone really think this guy tells the truth? GOP= the end justifies the means- period. NOT trustworthy.

  • goldenosprey Mar 21, 2014

    "I am interested in what he would offer to solve a few problems rather than come up with some new way of funding them." redfish.

    That would be a short piece indeed, thus the inadvertent accidental typing of C-O-L-L-E-G-E P-A-R-K on his bio material.

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone Mar 21, 2014

    I guess defending his college credentials is easier they defending his boneheaded voting record.

  • Charlie Watkins Mar 21, 2014
    user avatar

    A jury ruled that Brannon mislead investors.
    Would the same jury rule that Tillis mislead voters?That is the question.

    Is there a candidate that is not misleading us? I wonder.

  • tgiv Mar 20, 2014

    Compared to Tillis giving big raises to his staffers while freezing out the rest of the state workers, or screwing up North Carolinians ability to get federal unemployment benefits, this is a minor story.

    However, the idea that "People get the two mixed up all the time," is beyond laughable. No one EVER confuses the name of the university where they spent 4 (or more) years laboring for a degree.

  • redfish Mar 20, 2014

    Tillis should stop talking about himself. I don't care if he walked up hill to school every day, with no shoes, in the snow. I am interested in what he would offer to solve a few problems rather than come up with some new way of funding them.

  • BurtReynoldsBigHat Mar 20, 2014

    No, Jordan Shaw, that's not what they're saying. They're saying you don't take online classes at UNC-Pembroke and then try to pretend you received your degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

  • wat63 Mar 20, 2014

    SCVMCDOC MAR 20, 3:02 P.M.
    "And again WRAL shows just who they have decided should win the election and it's obviously not Tillis. This is such a non-issue, why is WRAL even posting it other than trying to slander Tillis."

    So being deceitful is a non-issue....right.

  • Bill Brasky Mar 20, 2014

    What difference does it make Wake Forest....Wake tech, same difference.

  • mayhem Mar 20, 2014

    Senator O'Leary.

    Oh, it's someone else's fault! Way to be accountable Tom! He'll fit right in up there.