A Catholic university has hired a dean with ties to the Vatican. The problem? He forged his credentials.

The University of St. Thomas in Houston is reviewing its hiring processes after faculty accused the dean of the business school of lying about his credentials.

Mario Enzler, hired in 2020 as dean of the Cameron School of Business, resigned this month.

“Over the summer, the university reviewed his credentials and gave him an opportunity to rebut the findings,” university president Richard L. Ludwick wrote in a campus-wide email Friday. “Instead, he chose to resign.” The university has hired a consultant to support the start of a national search for a new business school dean, the president wrote in an email.

Vice President for University Academic Affairs Christopher P. Evans has been placed on administrative leave. Faculty members have accused Evans of hiring Enzler even though he lacked the required academic qualifications.

Some are seeking termination and legal consequences for Enzler and Evans, who allegedly violated the Texas Penal Code and policies of the university’s accreditor, the Southern Commission on Colleges and Schools.

A university representative declined to comment further on what went wrong in Enzler’s hiring, but there are several indications that the hiring process did not follow industry standards.

First, the university’s search firm was ordered to conduct a reference and background check on Enzler.

Lori Werth, a board member of the Association of Chief Academic Officers and provost at the University of Pikeville, said all new hires should have their credentials checked prior to employment, including academic transcripts from all institutions they’ve attended.

“We sometimes call people who are not on their comparison list,” Werth said.

It is unclear whether St. Thomas administrators contacted Enzler’s references, which included five senior clergy who were cardinals, archbishops and bishops, and two businessmen who, according to his resume, are not academics. St. Thomas is a Catholic university.

Enzler’s resume

But it is clear that university officials did not check Enzler’s academic credentials before hiring him, or if they did, they decided to hire him even though the credentials were not checked.

Five institutions are listed under the education section of Enzler’s resume. No dates added.

Leonard Cassuto, professor at Fordham University and co-author of the book The New Doctorate: How to Create Better Postgraduate Education reviewed Enzler’s resume, which he called “a series of items without explanation.” The agreement requires bullet points that describe each role.

Cassuto added that U.S. recruiting boards may have been wary of Enzler’s resume because of obvious cultural differences. “But if he was American, they’d be thinking, ‘Has he ever applied for a job before?’

American recruitment administrators “could relax the level of scrutiny. It doesn’t answer the question why you hired a musician as the dean of the business school,” he said.

Despite Enzler’s repeated claims that he has a doctorate in music—and he once publicly claimed to have a doctorate in finance—none of the institutions listed on his resume offer doctoral programs.

For some resume claims about Enzler’s education, see: Although Chronicle did not get into the Swiss Armed Forces College, which Enzler claims he attended, pictures from his time in the Swiss Guards to Pope John Paul II are available online and suggest he was trained by the Swiss Armed Forces. However, such training is strictly military oriented and not related to business.

Other claims should have raised questions. Another Swiss-based institution “UBS School of Banking” is on his CV. UBS is not a school, but rather an asset management firm where Enzler claimed to have worked from 1993 to 2009. UBS representatives were not available for comment.

Italian-born Enzler also listed three credentials from Italian institutions. His “AB in Classics” seems to indicate that he has a BA from the Instituto Paolo Sarpi in Bergamo, Italy, but that institution is a high school and does not offer university-level programs of study.

Enzler claims to have earned a doctorate in music at the Laurea Magistrali from two other Italian institutions, both conservatories of music, which Enzler confirmed he attended. But at the time Enzler was there, in the 1980s, a certificate from an Italian conservatory was not equivalent to an academic college degree. Instead of pursuing a liberal arts curriculum in addition to his music training, his degree shows that he spent most of his time playing the trumpet.

Eugenio Refini, an associate professor of Italian at New York University who was born and raised in Italy, explained that a 2010 reform of the Italian education system may have helped Enzler create the impression that he had a Ph.D. After the reform, conservatories added classes and requirements that allowed them to award academic degrees.

“A 1988 music degree would make you a great musician, but it’s not the same as going to college,” Refini said.

Cultural differences

Cultural difference may also have contributed to the confusion. While in the United States only those with a doctorate are called “doctors,” the Italian system works differently. “Once you get your degree from university, you get the title of doctor,” Refini said. “But if you read it in English, it’s very misleading.”

“In that sense, it’s a bit of a stretch that people with a music degree under the old system would never call themselves a doctor. If they taught, they would be called masters or professors,” Refini said.

During his tenure at St. Thomas, Enzler was often referred to as “Dr. and had a Ph.D. next to his name. During the university’s 2022 commencement ceremony, Enzler was introduced as “Dr. and wore a black velvet dam with a gold tassel, traditionally reserved for holders of Ph.D. The ceremony was held in May, about a month after faculty at the business school sent a letter to the university administration indicating that Enzler had misrepresented his educational background.

He has also been called “Dr. and was described as having a Ph. in several Catholic online publications and Houston Business Journal.

In March 2022, Enzler publicly announced at a luncheon hosted by Catholic Citizens of Illinois that he had a PhD in finance. A PhD in finance is not mentioned on his CV or in any of the biographies reviewed Chronicle.

Born and raised in Italy, Laura Banella, associate professor of Italian at the University of Notre Dame, doesn’t think the discrepancy was a simple misunderstanding.

“If someone who didn’t know much English made this mistake while translating from Italian, I would understand. But someone in an academic context who lives in the US should know. These are really big mistakes,” he said.

Banella had to undergo an evaluation of all his degrees when he applied for his Ph.D. program in the United States and later to academic work. “I had to provide official translations. It was a long process to prove my Italian credentials,” he said.

Foreign diplomas are usually assessed by a third party specializing in degree equivalency, such as the Foundation for International Services.

Severine Kassimou, the foundation’s evaluation director, spoke Chronicle that a proper degree assessment cannot be based on a CV. “We need to see official authorizations and certified translations,” he said. Official credentials usually include a graduation diploma and a course-based evaluation transcript.

Kassimou said evaluation agencies should be certified by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). They evaluate the length of the academic program, admission requirements, the institution’s accreditation, and whether it is recognized by the state’s education department.

If they discover degree falsification, the agencies will contact all NACES agencies to alert them in case the individual tries to obtain equivalency from another institution. They also inform the institution that requested the assessment.

The University of St. Thomas declined to answer questions about whether it continued to verify Enzler’s credentials.

Roderick J. McDavis, executive director of ABG Search, said it is unusual to see candidates at the dean, provost and president levels who mislead or falsify credentials. “The dean would have been a lecturer somewhere else, and the previous university already verified their degree. But we still verify that we have fulfilled our due diligence,” he said.

Before being hired by St. Thomas, Enzler served as a faculty member at Catholic University’s Busch School of Business. He taught undergraduate and graduate financial management courses.

But some faculty believe Enzler should not have been hired in the first place. St. Thomas administrators knew from the beginning that Enzler did not have a definitive degree in business. He taught business courses, which accreditation policy allows only those with a business degree to teach.

Faculty members took matters into their own hands to investigate Enzler’s qualifications and inform the university of their findings. Allegations that he was not submitting accreditation documents were documented in a complaint filed with the university in May.

“What took [St. Thomas] operate for four months?” said Ramon Fernandez, associate professor of accounting. “Making it public was the last resort. But going public will prevent Enzler from committing this fraud at another school.

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