Arizona Education Dept. Knew Spokesman Lied About Degree, Hired Him Anyway

The Arizona Department of Education communications director wrote on his resume that he had a degree from Hunter College in New York. He does not.
The Arizona Department of Education communications director wrote on his resume that he had a degree from Hunter College in New York. He does not. Arizona Department of Education
Dan Godzich was caught in a lie about his education credentials on his application to be spokesman for the Arizona Department of Education, but the department hired him anyway.

Godzich wrote on his resume that he had a bachelor of arts degree from Hunter College in New York. Michael Bradley, chief of staff to Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, had been impressed by Godzich’s credentials when Godzich applied to head up the department's Empowerment Scholarship Account.

Instead of hiring Godzich for that job, however, Bradley and Douglas thought Godzich would be a better fit for the director of communications role.

Godzich had spent years as a GOP adviser in the state Legislature and had public relations bona fides. So, Bradley offered him the job.

But then, before Godzich was brought on board, Bradley received an anonymous email from a throwaway address. It said that Godzich had lied about his academic credentials; contrary to his resume and public persona, the note insisted, Godzich had not actually graduated from Hunter College.

click to enlarge HUNTER COLLEGE
Hunter College
Bradley's response? Essentially, he shrugged. The chief of staff said that when he confronted Godzich about his resume discrepancy, Godzich was “forthcoming” about his "incorrect and not up-to-date" resume. Godzich offered to withdraw.

It was this apparent show of honesty that won Bradley over on Godzich as the communications director for the department.

“He says, ‘Well, I did go to Hunter College, but I didn’t complete it.’ And I said, ‘Okay, well, that’s not why we’re hiring you anyway, so it doesn’t make any difference for us," Bradley told Phoenix New Times. "'For your records, can you make sure you’ve got the correct information on your resume for the state?’ And he said he’d look right into it, make sure that the state got a copy that says ‘attended’ and not ‘completed.’”

A copy of the resume provided to New Times shows that Godzich wrote “City University of New York, Hunter College — Bachelor of Arts — Film and Media Production,” leading the reader to believe that the applicant was a college grad.

Bradley, however, was nonplussed. He said that the attempt to mislead was not a deal-breaker when it came to the public relations position. To him, Godzich's experience mattered more than the degree.

“If he had lied to me at all, I would have rescinded him getting the job,” Bradley told New Times. “But he was pretty open about it. You look at a resume, and it says Hunter College, and it’s got an area of study that’s irrelevant — the degree’s kind of irrelevant at that point. We gave him the job anyway, whether he had the degree or not.”

An updated version of the resume that Godzich submitted to the human resources department — after Bradley found out Godzich's credentials were inaccurate — merely says, "Major: Film Production, Minor: Political Science."

Godzich was named director of communications in a June 23 press release. The release stated that Godzich is a “graduate of Hunter College in New York.”

New Times reported shortly thereafter that Godzich did not have a bachelor's degree, contrary to the release and Godzich’s own social media pages.

From his point of view, Bradley said that the issue having come up when it did was beneficial for the Department.

“If, let’s say, a year had passed, and we had gone and checked with H.R. and his resume lied on it, we probably would have just terminated him at that time,” Bradley said.
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Joseph Flaherty is a staff writer at New Times. Originally from Wisconsin, he is a graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Contact: Joseph Flaherty