Diana Fennell and Darryl Barnes Caught Peddling Phony Ph.D. Degrees

In 2018, Diana Fennell and Darryl Barnes called themselves “Delegate Doctors.”

The two Maryland lawmakers led their constituents to believe they earned legitimate PhDs.

Diana Fennell and Darryl Barnes were not enrolled in a legitimately accredited university Ph.D. program.

They didn’t attend any courses, and they never submitted or defended a Ph.D. dissertation.

Delegate Doctor Diana Fennell?

Delegate Doctor Darryl Barnes?


Diana Fennell and Darryl Barnes paid a for-profit, illegitimate degree factory for Ph.Ds.

Why would two prominent Maryland state lawmakers buy illegitimate degrees from a for-profit degree factory?

And why would the two lawmakers try and hoodwink their supporters into believing a fictional narrative?

A Miner Detail unwinds this bizarre story from 2018.

Delegate Doctor Diana M. Fennell? 

Diana Fennell is one of two state lawmakers representing Prince George’s County District 47-A.

She was first elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 2014.

In the spring of 2018, Diana Fennell sent campaign supporters an invitation to her re-election fundraiser.

The fundraiser would feature “special guest” Darryl Barnes, Fennell’s House colleague.

Fennell called her event a “Business Mixer Fundraiser.”

The fundraiser was held at the African American Museum in Brentwood on the last day of April 2018. 

Diana Fennell and Darryl Barnes April 2018 fundraiser

But Fennell’s fundraiser invitation appeared a little fishy.

She changed her official title to “Delegate Dr. Diana M. Fennell.”

  • Who is Delegate Dr. Diana Fennell?
  • Who knew Diana Fennell was enrolled in in a Ph.D. program?
  • And when did Diana Fennell graduate from said Ph.D. program?

Diana Fennell’s Academic Credentials 

Diane Fennell attended Greensville County High School in Emporia, Virginia, according to her official state biography.

Her bio states that she attended the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance, School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park.

It’s unclear if Fennell earned an undergraduate degree.

Diana Fennell’s Honorary Doctorate 

A Miner Detail editor Ryan Miner emailed Diana Fennell to request information about her Ph.D. program.

Diana Fennell responded, sending Miner the following text message.

Diana Fennell's Honorary Doctorate

Fennell revealed that her Ph.D. was an “Honorary Doctorate” degree in “Humane Letters.”

She earned her doctorate in 2017, she said, from CICA International University & Seminary.

Delegate Doctor Darryl Barnes?

A Miner Detail emailed Darryl Barnes requesting information about his degree.

Barnes later confirmed that he “received an Honorary Doctorate from CICA International University & Seminary.”

Delegate Doctor Darryl Barnes and Delegate Doctor Diana Fennell: Two Maryland lawmakers and distinct graduates of “CICA International University & Seminary.”

Except, who has ever heard of CICA International University & Seminary?

CICA International University & Seminary 

This is where the story gets weird.

“CICA-International University and Seminary” (The Canadian International Chaplaincy Association) is an academic institution that was “incorporated in June 2012 in Houston, Texas.”

In June 2018, CICA International University and Seminary had just turned six.

About the CICA International University & Seminary 

The university’s website states the following:

“Word of Life Christian Fellowship (WOLCF), otherwise known as Word of Life Ministries International (WOLMI), was established in November of 1985 under the leadership of the Right Reverend the Honorable Dr. Phillip S. Phinn, OEA, as a local church in Kingston, Jamaica.

Within a short period of time, the church grew from a group of 30 to 300 members and, within the first decade of its existence, forged national and international linkages with other churches and ministries around the world, most notably the International Third World Leaders Association, (ITWLA), that is based in Nassau, Bahamas, of which Dr. Phinn is one of the founding trustees under the leadership of the late Dr. Myles Monroe.

In November 1996, eleven years later, WOLCF created history by becoming the first and only full gospel church to be granted an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

This is the highest level of accreditation that is awarded internationally to all designates.”

According to the university’s website, “No Limits Ministries International” was established as a church and a chaplaincy training center in Canada” in June 2012:

“The Canadian International Chaplaincy Association (CICA) was also incorporated in June 2012 in Houston, Texas, and includes CICA International University and Seminary under its umbrella.

All CICA entities and No Limits Ministries International have WOLMI as their governing body.

This was done to train and develop Christian Ambassadors as ministers for the marketplace.”

Is CICA International University & Seminary Legitimate? 

No, CICA International University & Seminary is not a legitimate university by any legitimate academic standards.

CICA International University & Seminary’s website lists its accreditation information:

“CICA International University & Seminary is accredited by the Evangelical Order of Certified Pastoral Counselors of America (EOCPC).

The EOCPC is a Federal Chartered organization with the Canadian Government and operates under Letters Patent. We are also accredited with the World-Wide Accreditation Commission of Christian Education Institutions, one of the largest non-governmental Evangelical/Full Gospel Accreditation agencies, for over 30 years.

As of August 31, 2015, CICA International University & Seminary also became affiliated with the Canadian Christian Theological Seminary in Alberta, Canada.

We are a 501c3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization as of December 26, 2013.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Postsecondary Institutions and Programs Database, CICA International University & Seminary is not accredited by any U.S. academic accrediting organization.

What is the Evangelical Order of Certified Pastoral Counselors of America (EOCPCA)

CICA International University & Seminary claims its “accredited by the Evangelical Order of Certified Pastoral Counselors of America (EOCPCA).”

You should know one “minor detail.”

The EOCPCA’s website no longer exists.

But its domain is for sale.

Do you want to buy the domain and start your own university accreditation system?

U.S. Senator Rand Paul could help you with that process.

The EOCPC domain is for sale on GoDaddy.

So, the “EOCPCA” doesn’t grant degrees? 

No, unfortunately not.

According to the blog The Galloping Beaver, the EOCPCA first established itself as a regulatory board for Biblical-based counseling and psychotherapy.

And the EOCPCA operated as a “lobby group.”

Here’s another “minor detail” for you:

The EOCPCA issues certificates, not degrees.

But there’s a catch.

If you already have a legitimate academic degree from an accredited secular or faith-based education institution, you could apply for a designation with the EOCPCA.

You might ask how the EOCPCA determines the specific educational qualifications required to apply for degree status.

Applicants who submitted their credits and qualifications were subject to approval by the “EOCPCA Membership Review Board.”

What About the EOCPCA? 

You have to wonder what qualifies someone to sit on the “EOCPCA Membership Review Board?”

According to The Galloping Beaver’s reporting from June 2008, “no other institution awards degrees by EOCPCA’s so-called ‘certifying body’ without review.”

None of the institutions had met the EOCPCA’s standards, even though The Association of Theological Schools was a leading association that accredited some of the well-known theological graduate schools in the United States and Canada.

The Galloping Beaver further reported in June 2008 that the leaders of these institutions were lobbyists and public figures who attempted to shape public policy.

One more “minor detail” to savor:

The individuals associated with the “EOCPCA Membership Review Board” expected tax exemption status under the Canada Revenue Agency charity designation.

The Evangelical Order of Certified Pastoral Counsellors of America was based in Burlington, Ontario.

The organization once claimed itself as a “lobby group,” as stated on its website.

But the EOCPCA was never found on the Canadian Registry of Lobbyists’ website.

There is a circular contradiction in at least one case where the dean of a college advertises a degree from an organization that states individuals need a degree from the institution at which the dean holds a seat.

Where is CICA International University & Seminary Located? 

A Miner Detail discovered that CICA International University & Seminary does not have a physical campus.

The university’s website lists an office address in Valley Stream, New York.

(347) 500-8085 is the only listed phone number for the university.

You can email the university at: cicainternationaluniversity@cica-chaplaincy.org.

A Miner Detail Contacted CICA International University & Seminary 

In April 2018, A Miner Detail Editor and Founder Ryan Miner contacted the university.

Miner left a message and later emailed the Gmail account associated with the website.

A man who described himself as “Dr. Phinn” texted Miner the same day and requested Miner call him back at the number (516) 513-9130.

A biography in Phinn’s name is listed on the CICA International University & Seminary website:

“His Excellency Dr. Phillip S. Phinn is an international Christian Ambassador, Apostolic Prophet, Motivational Speaker, Minister, Author, Lecturer, Advisor, Counseling Psychologist, Businessman, Economic, and Financial Consultant, teaching mankind how to win the battles of life.

He has traveled extensively for over 32 years throughout the Americas and the world as a conference speaker, seminar and convention teacher, and lecturer; God confirming (sic) his messages with signs and wonders.”

Miner called Phinn.

Phinn answered Miner’s phone call.

Miner immediately requested permission from Phinn to electronically record their conversation.

Phill did not object.

Miner first asked about CICA International University & Seminary’s “honorary doctorate degree program.”

Phinn explained that community service is the criteria for earning an honorary doctorate.

He said that doctoral candidates aren’t required to enroll in a traditional academic program.

CICA International University & Seminary does not require doctoral candidates to submit academic transcripts from any accredited universities they attended previously.

Candidates for the degree, Phinn said, were not required to write papers or defend a final dissertation.

How Do You Earn An Honorary Doctorate from CICA International University & Seminar?

Phinn explained that an honorary doctorate applicant must first be nominated and recommended by someone at the university.

The university does not charge an application fee for an honorary doctorate, Phinn told Miner.

But all candidates are required to make a financial contribution to the university. 

Dr. Phinn Becomes Irate and Confrontational 

When Miner asked Phinn for a copy of his academic credentials, Phinn became enraged.

Miner asked Phinn if he could provide his full name and official position with the university.

But Phinn refused.

Then Phinn requested to end the call.

Before ending the call, Phinn directed Miner to visit the university’s website to learn more about his role at the university.

Then Phinn hung up on Miner.

Click the link below to listen to Ryan Miner’s full interview with Phinn:

CICA International University & Seminary’s Application Process 

The university’s website provides only limited information about its faculty and degree programs.

Degree applicants can apply for admission through the university’s website.

Applicants must submit a “one-time non-refundable application fee of $100.00.”

Tuition costs are listed as a flat fee of $1,500.00.

The website does not provide information about financial aid.

Diana Fennell and Darryl Barnes’ Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters

Fennell and Barnes purchased an “Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Humane Letters (Honoris Causa).”

The university’s website states that an “Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters is “an award offered to persons who have made numerous contributions to society through philanthropic work.”

The criteria to earn a Humane Letters doctorate is listed on the university’s website:

This degree is evidence someone recognizes the work and contribution of the individual as having value.

Requirements: Biography, professional resume, highest educational degree, photo, one reference letter, and other certifications or awards achieved,

1. Bachelor’s Degree plus seven years or more of work experience in the field of study.

2. Master’s Degree plus five years or more of work experience in the field of study.

3. 10 years or more of work experience in philanthropic work and have received certifications, awards, licenses, etc.

CICA International University & Seminary Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters

Darryl Barnes Explains His Phony Ph.D.

A Miner Detail questioned Darryl Barnes about whether he believes his honorary doctorate from CICA International University & Seminary is legitimate.

Barnes did not directly answer the question.

He thanked Miner “for pointing this out” and said he would “look further into it.”

Mr. Barnes did not respond to A Miner Detail’s additional requests for comment.

According to his official state biography, Darryl Barnes attended High Point High School in Beltsville, Maryland, and later California State University-Long Beach.

About Honorary Doctorate Degrees 

In April 2018, A Miner Detail contacted a Maryland political scientist who legitimately earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in political science.

Here’s what the university professor shared:

“I’m not a fan of them.

It belittles the work done to earn the title.

It’s puffery.

When an institution bestows that honor, it’s understood that the title only applies to interactions with the institution.

Honorary degrees are an inexpensive way to get folks to associate with an institution.

Anymore, they’re handed out like candy on Halloween.

Let’s just say that it is not considered appropriate for a recipient of an honorary degree to use the title.”

The University professor shared his thoughts on CICA International University & Seminary.

“CICA International is a for-profit diploma mill that any legitimate U.S. accrediting agency does not accredit.

It appears to lack an actual campus and accepts applications for honorary degrees!

No legitimate college accepts applications for honorary degrees!

Check out their faculty bios!”

Fennell and Barnes Re-elected in November 2018

Diana Fennell and Darryl Barnes were re-elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 2018.

The two Maryland lawmakers are running for re-election in 2022.

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