Governor Manchin Emails State RE: Daughter’s WVU MBA Scandal

By Justin Seibert| 7 Min Read | May 19, 2008


Now I’m convinced the higher ups at WVU and in West Virginia State government are reading my blog and attending our Next Generation Marketing conferences.

I’m not going to go through the whole spiel again, but be aware that this article is written in a non-biased fashion meant to take a deeper look at the Heather Bresch pr crisis from an academic standpoint. Careful readers should be able to learn several ways to combat their own bad press.

For organizations with robust search engine reputation management and online pr crisis response needs, please contact us to discuss your options and develop a plan. We accept checks and all major credit cards and operators are standing by. Plus, call within the next 15 minutes and receive a free genuine ginsu link building plan.

You must understand two things:

1. You cannot bury your head in the sand. The conversation will happen. The question is: do you want to join it?

2. It is a million times easier to respond to pr crises with a proper plan in place before the dynamite goes boom.

Paid Search in Online Reputation Management

In my first blog post on the WVU MBA degree scandal, I discussed the issue from an online reputation management standpoint. As an aside, I pointed out that WVU – through its Google AdWords content match search advertising program – was advertising its MBA degree on the very same online articles that announced the record keeping discrepancies and questioned how it would impact the value of MBA degrees at West Virginia University.

A couple days later the ad was gone.

Email Marketing to Reach Advocates

Also in that blog post – and in my “Engagement & Dialogue” sessions in Huntington and Charleston, I mentioned that the Governor has often used email marketing very effective and what a powerful tool it can be. With RichRod, I received an email within 4 hours of his announcement about leaving for Michigan. Yet, I received not one email on the issue of Heather Bresch’s MBA degree.

Until a few minutes ago. I’ve copied and pasted the full text at the bottom for you to read. You’d think with all this help, we’d have a new contract with the state by now.

So come join us in Morgantown this Thurday and find out what free advice I’ll be giving out next. Oh, and if you represent the State of West Virginia, Mylan Corporation, or West Virginia University, please feel free to give me a call. I’ll set aside 3 ginsu link building sets in the meantime.

Note bene: Wrong – at least on the WVU front. They’re still advertising there. I may call some of my WVU contacts.

Copy of Governor Manchin’s Email

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: Statement from the Governor
Date: Mon, 19 May 2008 14:50:07 -0400
From: <>
To: <justin@>

May 19, 2008


Contact: Lara Ramsburg, 304-558-2000

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Joe Manchin today released the following statement about the continuing discussions regarding the report from the independent panel examining the E-MBA program and his daughter’s degree at West Virginia University.

“As a father, I must admit that I was hoping that the controversy surrounding my daughter’s E-MBA coursework at WVU would eventually resolve itself and subside. However, as a Governor, I recognize that is not realistic.

“In both roles, it has been extremely difficult for me to watch this controversy unfold. As governor, my natural instinct in a crisis is to do my very best to dive in and help bring all sides together to find a resolution. However, because of my family’s involvement in this particular situation, I feel that this is one time in which I am not in a position to follow that instinct, because it is likely that one side or the other would be inclined to question my ability to remain objective.

“WVU holds a special place in the hearts of both Gayle and I not only because we are proud graduates of WVU, but because it is also the place where we met, fell in love and started our family. From our perspective, this controversy all started because our daughter sincerely believed that she had her degree, because of a meeting that everyone admits took place with the program’s director in 1998, and when she contacted the university last year, she was simply asking them to find the records that she believed would confirm that.

“Had they told her that after looking through their records they didn’t have the proper documentation on file, we honestly believe that while she may not have liked that answer, she would have accepted it and moved on with her life.

“At no time would she have asked anyone to either ‘guess’ as to her records or to fabricate grades on those records. As a result, Gayle and I are both angry, in particular, at the fabrication of grades that took place, because it unfairly damages our daughter’s reputation as much as it does the University’s. It was absolutely wrong and, in my mind, completely unacceptable.

“Although I remain confident in President Garrison’s ability to follow the recommendations of the independent panel’s report, I am also fully aware of the concerns that have been raised by the faculty, staff, students and alumni of WVU and recognize that they must be addressed in some meaningful manner. WVU needs to find a way to begin to heal the wounds that have been created over these last few weeks, and it will take all parties working together to achieve that goal.

“To that end, I have seen it stated many times by individuals and the press that because I appointed certain members of the Board of Governors, they must be following my orders as to what to think and say regarding President Garrison and the independent panel’s report. This simply is not true.

“The Board of Governors is made up of extremely bright and accomplished people who were not given this responsibility lightly and who I trust to do the job assigned to them to the best of their abilities. While many members are appointed by a governor, they do not serve at the will and pleasure of a governor. They may act as they wish during their four-year terms as long as it is within legal and ethical reason.

“Therefore, the WVU Board of Governors members are not under my control and remain free, as they always have been, to make their own individual and collective decisions on this or any other situation. As I said previously, I am not in a position to make a recommendation to them in this instance even if I wanted to because, regardless of what it might be, it would not be viewed as being made objectively – and I absolutely understand and accept that.

“As a result, I consider this matter one that should be decided by the members of the Board of Governors based upon their own insights and beliefs and information, and as governor, I will continue to support whatever direction they believe is in the best interests of WVU both now and in the future.”

# # #

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Written by Justin Seibert

Justin Seibert is the President of Direct Online Marketing. Justin holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University. He contributes a wide range of online business-oriented topics, including the subject of exporting. His contributions can be found on publications such as the Pittsburgh Business Times, AdAge, SES Magazine, and La Voz del interior. Justin and his family enjoy learning about new cultures during their travels.

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