EpiPen CEO awarded MBA with ‘grades pulled out of thin air’ because of her powerful connections
A Pittsburgh newspaper found that Mylan, Inc. CEO Heather Bresch never completed her masters degree in business administration (MBA), but high-ranking officials at West Virginia University altered her academic records a decade after the fact to make it look as if she had.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported back in 2007 that Bresch actually completed fewer than half the course hours required by WVU’s MBA program. Bresch — daughter of Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin — has come under heavy scrutiny in recent days after Mylan dramatically raised the price of it’s top-selling EpiPen device.
In October of 2007, when Bresch was promoted to the chief operations officer (COO) position at Mylan — which is based in Cecil, WV and chaired by Milan Puskar, WVU’s biggest donor — the Post-Gazette called the university to verify Bresch’s academic credentials. The university at first said that Bresch had never completed her MBA, then days later announced that she had finished it in Dec. 1999. Since then, after an investigation, the university has reversed course and revoked her degree.
Officials initially said that an interdepartmental clerical error had caused WVU’s records to show that Bresch had dropped out of the MBA program. However, as reporters dug deeper, they found that this was a canard.
“(I)nformation collected by the Post-Gazette over the last two months — culled from university records, sources inside the school and interviews with Ms. Bresch’s former classmates and associates — raises questions about how the university decided to grant Ms. Bresch her degree,” wrote Patricia Sabatini and Len Boselovic.
Bresch, the Post-Gazette found, only finished 22 of the 48 hours of course study required for an MBA before dropping out of the program. Apparently, “high-ranking officials revised her university records despite a lack of solid evidence to support the reconstruction. Moreover, it suggests officials did so in a way that violated WVU’s internal procedures and those used by other accredited universities.”
A letter dated Oct. 22, 2007 from R. Stephen Sears — the Dean of WVU’s Milan Puskar business school — ordered the office of admissions and records to award Bresch her MBA retroactively. She was given credit for six classes she never took and given passing grades in two classes where her course work was listed as “incomplete.”
Bresch has refused to provide her academic transcripts and insists to anyone who asks that she graduated alongside her classmates in Dec. 1998. Three of her classmates told the Post-Gazette that this is a lie. Bresch, they said, dropped out of the program and did not graduate with them.
“She was hardly in class. I think she traveled a lot for work,” said one source who asked to remain anonymous. “She’s a friend of mine. I’m not doing this to hurt her. It’s just the truth.”
Mylan’s chairman Milan Puskar has made millions of dollars in donations to WVU, including a $20 million endowment in 2003. The university’s business school and several other programs and buildings bear his name. Multiple members of the university’s board of governors have past and present business ties to Mylan and to Bresch.
At the time of the dispute over whether or not she finished the program, it should be noted that Bresch’s father, now-Sen. Joe Manchin, was West Virginia’s governor.
Fortune magazine reported that after an investigation, Bresch was stripped of her falsely-awarded MBA in 2010. A 95-page report about the fraud said that administrators awarded her grades which they “pulled out of thin air” for classes she never took.
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