Saturday, January 5, 2008

Dan Seals: A "Professor" with No Class (until April 2008) UPDATED x2

I finally had some time to follow up on this little tidbit, which the TA faithful identified last December (see comments). Soon after Democrat Dan Seals announced his second go-around for the 10th Congressional District race against fourth-term incumbent Congressman Mark Kirk, Seals added to his short list of credentials the position of "adjunct professor" at Northwestern University. Seals's campaign bio states that:

"Currently, Dan is a business consultant and adjunct professor at Northwestern University."

In fact, Seals's list of credentials is so short, often the only reference to his claimed qualifications in the media are these two positions.

Here's an example from today's Daily Herald outlining the views of Seals and his Democratic primary opponent Jay Footlik on the Iraq war. Note that Seals is noted in the article as an adjunct professor at Northwestern, just like on his official bio. And, if all a reporter did was to take Seals' claimed credentials on his bio at face value, that's exactly what he or she would report (but, shame on you, as we will explain below). And, given the reputation of Northwestern as one of the best schools in the nation, a typical 10th District voter would probably conclude that such a teaching credential is fairly impressive, assuming that Northwestern doesn't hire just any meshugana to teach public policy, or any other class.

Well, not so fast.

After no small amount of digging, TA was unable to find any evidence at all that Seals has taught one minute of any class at Northwestern. There is no reference on the Internet, anywhere, to any classes that Seals has taught at Northwestern. Seals' income disclosures that he filed last election cycle show no income from Northwestern University. And Seals did not start claiming to be a professor at Northwestern until this election cycle, as far as TA can tell, as his archived campaign webpages (which are available all the way back to December 2005) make no reference of this claim. For example, here is Seals's bio from the August 6, 2006 snapshot of his campaign website. Notice no claim of being a professor there.

So, where does Seals get off by claiming he is "currently" a professor at Northwestern?

Well, it turns out that Seals has signed up to teach a course at Northwestern's School of Continuing Studies. The course that Seals is instructing is an elective class entitled Special Topics: Federal Policymaking. It meets once a week on Thursday nights. You can view the course offering here, but you have to scroll down almost to the bottom of the page. Unlike almost all of the other courses offered, there is no synopsis of the course available. OK, but so what, you ask?

Well, it turns out this course doesn't even begin until April 1 of this year.

So, despite Seals's well-publicized claim that he is "currently" an adjunct professor, he hasn't yet taught a class, and the only one he is scheduled to teach, as far as we can tell, doesn't start until months after the primary election. And, even better, he and his campaign have been making this claim (loudly and often) since at least October 2007, as noted by our friend EBG. The Dean of the School of Continuing Studies, Joel Shaprio, confirmed to TA that Seals has not yet taught any classes for that part of the college, and again, we simply can't find any evidence that Seals ever actually taught anything at NU, in any other part of the school. We always could be proven wrong, but we await correction from "Professor" Seals.

A less important, but nevertheless significant (when we're talking about credibility), is the issue of whether signing up to teach a single class entitles one to call one's self a "professor." When I went to college, there was a pretty clear dividing line between those academics that were "professors" and other professionals that came in now and again to teach non-core courses (and, believe me, the professors themselves were the ones who jealously guarded that title). These part-time individuals were usually called "instructors" or "lecturers." Now, I'm not going to tell Northwestern what it has to call its contract teachers. But, to the general public, I think calling yourself a professor brings to mind a fairly serious and credible position, and one that is not just handed out to anyone with a master's degree who signs up to teach a night course to other master's degree candidates.

But, the real issue, as I see it, is Seals being disingenuous (at best) or intentionally misrepresenting his current status and experience to pump up his qualifications and mislead the voters? Is this the kind of up-front, honest representation of one's qualifications that we are looking for in a congressman?

This is not the first time we have caught Seals being less than truthful about his employment or credentials. Regular Team America readers will undoubtedly remember the scandal we uncovered back in October 2007 regarding Seals' employment with website, in which Seals' biography identified him as a "former" candidate (while he had declared for his second run even before ThePoint website went live in September 2007) and ThePoint's "Director of Business Development"--a job which Seals has never admitted or acknowledged in any of his official candidate biographies or press releases. And, as we know, that job that came to a very quiet, unannounced end sometime around Thanksgiving, after only lasting a few months. See here and here.

What is it with Dan Seals that he does not want to acknowledge the employment he has had, and misrepresented employment and credentials that he doesn't have at all (or at best, won't have for some months)? And why isn't the mainstream media doing at least a minimal amount of fact-checking as to the claimed credentials of a candidate? And, finally, where is the Jay Footlik opposition research? (it's only a month until the primary, pal)

Please explain, "Professor" Seals, if you can. Class is in session, and we're waiting to hang on your every word.

UPDATED x1 01/06/08 8:00 a.m.: Here's a article from today's Daily Herald that again blindly touts Seals as an NU adjunct professor (front page, below the fold in the print edition). We should also note that one of our commentors pointed out that Seals even referenced his supposed NU position in the Mount Prospect forum that is the subject of the article. Assuming we are correct about Seals' not actually beginning his teaching gig until April, I think the Herald ought to do a story exposing this issue to its readers, since Seals has gotten months of free press about his unearned credentials.

It's also worth noting that the introduction of the Herald article implies that Mark Kirk was invited but didn't show. Here's a copy of the announcement of the forum in which it was stated that Kirk was invited. The event was hosted by the Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce. I'll have to check with the Kirk campaign to see if they received the invite and declined.

Updated x2 01.07.08 8:00 a.m.: The Waukegan News-Sun has an article about the Seals-Footlik debates, which TA readers already know all about. The timing of the debates plus Dan Seals' announcement of the opening of his official campaign office enabled the pro-Seals News-Sun to run a photo from the event and basically turn the debate article into a puff piece for Seals.

Does Footlik even have a campaign office? Does anyone care?


i could be potus said...

I went to NU and let me tell you, the Professors there would be appalled to learn The Pup is calling himself one. At best, the real professionals at NU would consider this guy "Temporary Part-Time Night Staff," at worst a wannabe hack.

NU should admonish The Pup on this one and not allow him to use an otherwise excellent school for political gain.

I can almost guarantee you that whoever was involved in the decision to hire him is 1) a big time Dem; and 2) a Pup campaign donor/volunteer.

Time for some more digging TA...

joe mccarthy and the red scarecrows said...

I was at a candidates forum in Mount Prospect this morning checking out some local state rep candidates, and low and behold, Dan and Jay walked in to state their cases in two minutes or less.

There wasn't enough time for anything notable to be said, although Dan made a big point to highlight his "experience" - as a "presidential fellow" on capitol hill during the Clinton administration, a business consultant and professor at Northwestern.

Meanwhile, Jay ran down his extensive list of actual jobs. Say what you will about Mr. Footlik, but at least he can qualify for the direct deposit checking account at Chase Bank.

This is just another example of Seals not being ready for the big show. You aren't a professor if you aren't teaching or getting a paycheck.

BUT, if he is getting a paycheck from NU, something is totally fishy. In Springfield, they would call that kind of thing a no-show job.

And by the way, what qualifies Dan to teach a continuing education class? Sounds like he could use a few classes himself. Maybe then he could get a job.

Anonymous said...

ICBP, I agree with you on Danno and his relationship with and to NU. Does anyone down there even know what this guy is saying? TA, this does give you a job to do ASAP.

I heard from someone who was also at the "Forum" in Mt. Prospect today. Broken record Dan trotted out his old stump speech that Mark Kirk is tied at the hip to Bush and his failed policies. Too bad that the folks who sponsored today's "event" failed to send an invitation to the Kirk organization. Odd, isn't it? Neither Dan nor Jay knew much of anything when questioned, but touted their records (?) and experience to hold office.

I can't wait for the real debates to begin. It appears that Mark Kirk will be debating Danno once again. I'm getting in line for a front row seat for THIS show, for sure!

Anonymous said...

Ah, shades of "professor" Harold Hill from that great musical, The Music Man. Do you remember that con artist? Well, I think Mr. Seals is much like "professor" Hill in many ways. That guy tried convincing folks in that town that he could teach kids to play musical instruments just by wishing them to do so. Dan Seals thinks that he can convince voters in this district that he can actually be a United States Congressman! On the serious side, I think that the NU officials needs to offer up some kind of explanation for the status of one professor Dan Seals. We all know NU to be a great and distinguished center of learnng. I wonder if anyone down there has any idea what this bufoon is claiming by using this title. I hope it's one of the first questions asked by someone attending this week's debates between Seals and Footlik. The answer should be very revealing.

Team America said...

When I spoke with Dean Shapiro at NU, he told me that in his opinion, it was a pretty loose title and he didn't personally have a problem whether Seals called himself an adjunct professor or a lecturer. But that does not necessarily mean that the real professors at NU would agree, and Deal Shapiro admitted that he didn't know if there was a broader univerity policy that specified exactly who could and could not use the "professor" title under what circumstances. I just thiunk it's clear that to the outside world, Seals is trying to get the absolute maximum advantage out of using that title without going into any details about his gig, which seem fairly mundane when you dive into it.

I didn't ask Dean Shapiro if he hired Seals or was a Seals supporter, as suggested by ICBP, but maybe I will follow-up. But, to me, the title is not really the big issue.

The much more important question is whether Seals has been touting his credentials as an NU professor for six months or more before he even stepped into the classroom and did any teaching. People find honesty a pretty important factor for choosing politicans, so Professor Seals has some real explaining to do, IMHO. I don't think that just because you sign a contract and have a course on the schedule makes you a "professor", at not in the sense that you should go out and campaign on that as a credential.

Too bad none of the newspapers have called him on this yet. All it would have taken was a few questions: So, Mr. Seals, what about your position as a respected professor at NU teaching public policy has given you insight and experience that will help you as a congressman? Which courses do you teach? How do your students like your courses? How many students have you taught over the years? Have any of your students gone on to successfully run for office? Do you keep your course non-partisan or does your politics play a center role? Are you open about the fact you are currently running for congress? Do you allow any of your students to volunteer on your campaign? What if you found out a student was working for Mark Kirk or Jay Footlik; would you hold that against him or her?

These are all questions anyone who is a real professor at NU should expect and easily be able to answer. Unless they are lying.

MSM, prospective debate questioners, are you listening???

Anonymous said...


Do you know who sponsored the "forum" in Mount Prospect yesterday? I don't recall hearing or reading anything about it. Maybe one of the earlier posters can give your readers some insight.

WLS TV (Channel 7) ran a short clip on the 5:00 news last night showing Jay and Dan blasting our Congressman who did not attend. Just wondering if the sponsors even invited Congressman Kirk???

Professor Peabody said...

I used to be a grad student at NU. I taught undergrad working labs as part of my grad student duties. Such teaching responsibilities were far more expansive than this guy Seals will ever be doing as a night lecturer for a one hour audited class. There was no way I could ever call myself "professor" and pass the red-face test, let alone not have every real professor mock me up and down the hallway.

Bottom line here folks is that you can take it to the bank that at a school like NU, nearly all professionals who call themselves "professor" have advanced degrees (i.e., MD, JD, PhD, MS) and years of experience in thier fields.

This guy Seals is no "professor" in any way, shape or form. Time for some letters to the editor of the Daily Hearald.

Team America said...

Prof. Peabody- To be fair, Seals does have an MA and an MBA. So, as far as advanced degrees, he has more on paper than your typical grad teaching assistant. I asked Dean Shapiro if he thought Seals was qualified, and he gave me a pretty standard, 'well, we looked at his credentials and his experience and thought he was qualified' type of answer. I didn't ask him how Seals and NU ever hooked up in the first place, which would have been interesting to learn, but who knows if he would have told me.

So, considering Shapiro is responsible for Seals teaching at NU (in the sense that his department hired Seals), you can assume that Shapiro is not going to all of a sudden say, 'OMG, this guy is a hack, how did he ever sneak in here???' No, Shapiro and NU are going to back Seals, as you might expect.

Again, I keep going back to the misrepresentation issue. NU can hired whomever they want, and if their standards have diminished lately (or perhaps specifically in Seals' case), then that's a different issue than whether Seals is out there misrepresenting himself.

Team America said...

Anon 8:16- see the updated post for the link to the announcement of the Sat. Mount Prospect event.

professor peabody said...

TA, I hear what you are saying. A MBA may be a qualification that substantiates your abilities to teach business related courses at the college level, but political policy issues? I don't think so.

Apples and organges. Seals might as well be teaching physics.

Team America said...

I don't disagree on the MBA issue, Prof. Peabody. I just wanted to make sure everyone was aware that WE are aware of what Seals's credentials are. An MBA from U of C pretty much means you are good at math, or at least, good enough to graduate. While U of C is clearly a top-ranked business school, someone has to gradudate last in the class. For all we know, that might well have been Danno.

I would assume that his MA in public policy (if I have that right) is the absolute minimum a school like NU would require for teaching other students who are seeking the same degree, or are at-large, non-degree students. Frankly, if I was a serious grad student, why would I want to sign up for Seals's class when there is not even a discription of the course?

professor peabody said...

It's a sad day for NU. 99.9 % of the people teaching there do so because they like to teach. Sure some do it for the money, others for the glory, but at the end of the day, they do so because they truely want to teach and educate.

My guess is that Mr. Seals falls into that 0.1 % who do it for self promotion and publicity.

Sometimes, courses are cancelled if not enough people sign up. Wouldn't that be a hoot.

Publia said...

It's the era of the celebrity candidate--look good, talk good, take care of the rest (e.g. credentials) later. Barack Obama was an adjunct at U of C; while a few have pointed this out, the MSM has largely given him a pass on that one. Seals is doing the same thing, with the exception that he hasn't taught even one student yet over there.

It's time for you NU alums to put a note into that little envelope in lieu of a check.

Wonder if the district is ok with resume padding.

Anonymous said...

Does Seals know that half of his students will now be quiet Kirk supporters?

Dan: EVERYTHING you say will be recorded. Thank you. Better show up in class.

TA: How much does a one-night a week night school instructor make at NU?

Team America said...

Prof. Peabody- you must be reading my mind. I was just talking with one of my partners who is an Obama fanatic, but thinks Seals is an empty suit. I laid out the whole story for him and he agreed it was a stretch at best for Seals to make this claim. I posed the scenario you raised to him as well--what if the class actually never goes forward? Seals will have spent 8 months crowing about a credential that is apparently one of his centerpieces of his resume (to hear his stump), and it will have been no more than vaporwear.

Anon 2:13- I have no idea what the job pays, but as someone else commented, I think, most don't do it for the cash.

Anonymous said...

TA great work as always.

Hopkins is the top foreign affairs graduate school in the world and the deans of late have been Paul Wolfowitz and Elliot Cohen who's now the top advisor to the Secretary of State. That's a heady credential that will get you entree anywhere in Washington or around the world. It's a feeder for diplomats and world leaders, but...

His experience on Capitol Hill is less reassuring, he was for all intents and purposes an intern and commerce is a joke where they stuff appointees who struggle to understand the economics in the journal and get hammered at Hotel Washington. In D.C. the sexier the title usually the less significant you are. Kirk was top legal counsel on the House International Relations Committee-that means he had to clear on all foreign relations bills in congress, not flashy, but a big deal.

Jay was jewish liasion-fat title but its the hanukah party and kissing aipac ass, that's it. TA should ask him what level of security clearance he had, whether he ever sat in on a NSC meeting-sorry thats for the big boys not the political hacks with degrees from state schools, what he did other than try to assuage donor egos after Hillary sat by and kissed Yassir Arafat's wife ripped Israel in 1999?

Rooting for the Clintons to destroy Obama.

Anonymous said...

Re: Anon January 6, 2008 4:39 PM

Yeah, anon's "TA should ask him what level of security clearance he had, whether he ever sat in on a NSC meeting" is right on the money.

His/her comments on state schools "out" anon as a genuine Washington insider.

Team America said...

Nothing wrong with being a Washington insider, unless you are trying to run for president.

We actually get a TON of viewers from the DC/VA area, according to my site meter. And, interestingly, one of the most popular searches that brings people to the Team America Blog as for "Jay Footlik" or variations thereof.

Does this mean that many more people out there are more interested in Footlik than Seals? I have no clue, but I thought people might find that factoid interesting.

Wonder if the DCCC is lurking on the Blog trying to decide if they should throw money into the race after the primary. Any of you folks from the domain care to comment?

Anonymous said...


I agree with your partner, Seals is an empty suit, but then, so is Obama really. He was on Meet The Press just before New Year's and Russert asked the question: Before you go, you related a conversation that you had with your wife, Michelle, that if you didn't this time for president, you wouldn't run again.

Obama's response: Well, no, what my wife said is, "We're not doing this again." And...

Russert: Is she right?

Obama's response: Well, the point she was making, I think, was an interesting one, which is, she said, one of the things that we bring to this race is we're not that far away from normal. You know, it wasn't that long ago that we were living in a small condo and it was getting too small for our kids, that we were trying to figure out how to save money for our children's college education and paying off student loans. That, I think, gives us some insight into what ordinary Americans are going through right now. Eight years from now, she isn't so sure that we wont't be in a different orbit, and we won't have that same feeling for what people are going through.

Read it over twice, and I'm telling you his comments screach of "empty suit", "disingenuous", and out right scary.

As a community activist and volunteer, I have participated in improving the quality of my community through volunteerism, donations, learning and sharing. My salary is meek in comparison to many (especially the Senator and his wife) but my needs are fewer as well. I and many others like me, give, understand, help and grow because we are a part of being agents of real change, agents of real hope.

Senator Obama's rhetoric is just that - rhetoric. One should never stop caring or helping people when it is no longer convenient and in a new "orbit"!

Team America said...

Anon 12:07, I think you've noticed something about Obama that also troubles me. Obama is at his best when he is giving a canned speech, or in debates where the issues are expected and can be answered with some variation of a pre-thought-out position. Give Obama a new situation where he has to give a real life answer without the time to plan it, and it's surprising what comes out of his mouth sometimes.

What I hear coming from Mrs. Obama was something to the effect of, 'we're having to make a big personal sacrifice to put up with the BS of running for president, so if the American people cannot figure out (this time around) how lucky they would be to have my husband be their president, we're not going to waste our time on them again.'

I hear a bit of Harvard/Hyde Park snobbery coming through, but that's just me, perhaps. Even if Obama isn't our next president, we here in Illinois are probably going to have to learn to deal with him for some time to come, so maybe I better get used to it.

Even so, at the end of the day, Dan Seals is no Barack Obama, no matter how many pictures Seals posts of him and Obama standing together.

Anonymous said...

Team America: Resume Police! LOL how lame.