TOPEKA — The administrator recently hired by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to oversee computer projects and systems for most of state government resigned Tuesday, a day after questions arose about his academic degree.
Jim Mann stepped down from his $150,000-a-year job as chief information technology officer for the executive branch. The announcement came hours after Brownback acknowledged that his administration hadnt thoroughly examined Manns entire educational background.
But Brownback also said his staff thoroughly examined Manns work history, and that his two decades of experience in the private sector were what mattered.
Mann, 58, was most recently a consultant in St. Augustine, Fla. The governors office and Manns online resume listed him as holding a bachelors of business administration from the University of Devonshire. The institution isnt in an online database of accredited institutions maintained by the Washington-based Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
The questions surrounding my qualifications to perform and deliver in this position have compromised confidence in me and my integrity, Mann wrote in his brief resignation letter. As such, I am no longer an asset to your team and your IT mission.
Brownbacks office said Mann received his degree from the University of Devonshire after studies from 1993 to 1995. While there were references online to the institution having an address in London, a website or phone number couldnt immediately be located.
Tim Willard, communications director for the accreditation council, said the group includes institutions in its database if theyre accredited by one or more organization recognized by the federal government.
Most foreign schools dont have U.S. accreditation, he said, and institutions not listed in the database may not have sought it.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board includes the University of Devonshire in an online list of institutions whose degrees are illegal to use in seeking employment, a promotion, a business or trade license or admission to an institution of higher education. The list says the university has no degree-granting authority from the United Kingdom.
Also, the Michigan Civil Service Commission does not recognize degrees from the University of Devonshire as satisfying educational requirements for government jobs there, according to a list of unaccredited universities published in January.
I looked at it when it came in on the resume. I hadnt heard of the place, but thats not what we were measuring, Brownback said. The people we checked with were all ones in organizations where he had worked.
The Topeka Capital-Journal first raised questions about Manns degree hours after Brownback announced Manns hiring. The governors office said Mann also attended the University of Maryland from 1972 to 1974.
Please accept my sincerest apology, and I wish you and all Kansans nothing but the best as you strive to bring excellence to Kansass information technology systems, Mann wrote. Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag declined to comment after the office announced Manns resignation.
But earlier, Brownback noted that when he was the states agriculture secretary from 1986 to 1993, his agencys information technology chief was a former meat cutter, self-taught in IT, who did a great job with it.
A lot of people in the IT field dont have much as far as degrees, said Brownback, who holds a bachelor of agricultural economics from Kansas State University and a law degree from the University of Kansas.
Ive got two degrees, and I sure wouldnt put me in charge of IT.
Mann started a consulting business in Florida after leaving the chief information technology officers job at Service Brands International, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based services franchising company, in 2010. He resigned the same year he joined the company; he and the company said they had different philosophies about how to handle information technology.
Before that, Mann owned and ran a marketing, direct-mail, design and communications business, and he is a former vice president of Havi Foodservice Worldwide, a supplier of distribution and other services to companies such as McDonalds and Starbucks Coffee Co. He was credited with developing supply chain applications for both.
Hes got a 20-year work experience record, so we went thoroughly through that, because thats what we wanted to know: How did he perform in these large, complex organizations? Brownback said. He did very well.