Drugmaker Mylan has come under fire this week for price increases upwards of 500% since 2009 to epinephrine autoinjector EpiPen.
As it turns out, this isn’t CEO Heather Bresch’s first brush with controversy. In 2008, West Virginia University stripped her of an MBA she claimed she earned.
The situation began when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette made a routine call to verify Bresch’s credentials as the new head of Mylan. Accusations of political cronyism and the resignation of three WVU faculty members followed.
In 2007, the press release announcing Bresch’s ascension to CEO noted she “earned an MBA and an undergraduate degree in international studies and political science from West Virginia University.”
By December, however, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that West Virginia University awarded Bresch the MBA only after rewriting documents that originally showed she completed approximately half the credits necessary for the degree.
Initially, WVU told the Post-Gazette that Bresch did not have an MBA but several days later, insisted she earned one in 1998 and blamed the discrepancy on poor record-keeping and later, an unpaid fee. Throughout the Post-Gazette’s inquiry, the university and Bresch maintained she earned her MBA at the university, while professors, classmates, and even friends of Bresch, cast doubt. Some feared for their jobs after speaking out.
The Post-Gazette’s inquiry also revealed several big-names in the West Virginia political community tied to Bresch. Most notably, her father, Joe Manchin, held the governorship, but Bresch also went to high school with WVU President Mike Garrison, and the college’s largest benefactor, Milan Puskar, chaired Mylan at the time.
Soon after the accusations, the university commissioned a special panel to look into Bresch’s degree. The panel’s report, released in 2008, found that “Ms. Bresch did not earn an MBA at West Virginia University.” While the panel called the decision “seriously flawed” and “reflect[ing] poor judgment,” the members did not think it revealed flaws in WVU’s record-keeping, as the university initially claimed. The panel also found the university knew these excuses were false.
Lastly, the panel revealed the primary reason the university gave Bresch the MBA: a conversation she had with Craig Walker, the president’s chief of staff, after the registrar provided a statement to the Post-Gazette that Bresch hadn’t, in fact, earned her degree.
After word spread that WVU administrators had erroneously awarded a degree to the governor’s daughter that she hadn’t earned, Garrison, provost Gerald Lang, and business school dean R. Stephen Sears all resigned.
Bresch’s current LinkedIn profile lists her education as a bachelor’s degree in international studies and political studies from West Virginia University — but no MBA. Mylan’s bio of Bresch also forgoes the mention of an MBA.
Neither Mylan, West Virginia University, nor Joe Manchin’s press team responded to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Bresch, however, told Fortune in 2015: “I certainly to this day believe I did everything I needed to do to get my degree.”
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