O’Donnell Linkedin

Another Christine O’Donnell embellishment: She misleadingly claims she studied at Oxford

The Plum Line – Greg Sargent

In another move that will raise further questions about Christine O’Donnell’s embellishment of her education record, she claims she studied at the University of Oxford — but a look at her actual record shows this is at best an exaggeration and at worst an outright falsehood.

O’Donnell’s LinkedIn bio page lists “University of Oxford” as one of the schools she attended, claiming she studied “Post Modernism in the New Millennium.” But it turns out that was just a course conducted by an institution known as the Phoenix Institute, which merely rented space at Oxford.

What’s more, the woman who oversaw Phoenix Institute’s summer program at Oxford tells me O’Donnell’s claim about studying at Oxford is “misleading.”

By itself, O’Donnell’s Oxford claim might not matter too much. But the larger context is that O’Donnell has already been nabbed fudging her education record not once, but twice. She claimed for several years to have graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson Unversity, but she actually obtained her bachelor’s degree last summer. And in a lawsuit she suggested she was trying for a Master’s degree courses at Princeton — but subsequently acknowledged she hadn’t taken a single Princeton graduate course.

O’Donnell’s LinkedIn bio page lists the following under education:

Christine O’Donnell’s Education

Fairleigh Dickinson University 1989 — 1993

Claremont Graduate University

Constitutional Government

University of Oxford

“Post Modernism in the New Millennium”

Asked to account for the claim about Oxford, Diana Banister, a spokesperson for O’Donnell, told me it was a reference to a certificate she obtained from a course at Oxford overseen by the Phoenix Instutute, which “runs summer seminar programs at universities around the world.” The Phoenix Institute defines itself as an institution that runs summer sessions “on three continents” in the quest to answer the question, “What is it to be human?”

But Chris Fletcher, who oversaw the Institute’s 2001 Oxford Summer Programme, which included the course O’Donnell took, tells me the course was not overseen by Oxford.

“We never represented it as a course run by Oxford University,” Fletcher, who is now an assistant professor of religious studies at Benedictine University in Illinois, told me. Fletcher said the only connection to Oxford is that they rented space there and organized some lectures with “guest lecturers from Oxford and Cambridge” as well as from other institutions.

“It wasn’t an official course of Oxford University,” Fletcher said. “It wasn’t sponsored by Oxford University. We rented the space.”

“It was our curriculum, and we did the grades,” Fletcher continued. Fletcher’s conclusion about O’Donnell’s Oxford claim: “It’s misleading.”