In this installment we'll take a look at the educational background Lazar claims to have, and what, if any, parts of it can be corroborated.
On the "Billy Goodman Happening" radio program, December 20, 1989:
Caller: Can you list your credentials?
Lazar: As far as what?
Caller: Schooling, degrees.
Lazar: I have two masters degrees; one's in physics; one's in electronics. I wrote my thesis on MHD, which is magnetohydrodynamics. I worked at Los Alamos for a few years as a technician and then as a physicist in the Polarized Proton Section, dealing with the accelerator there. I was hired at S-4 as a senior staff physicist to work on gravitational propulsion systems and whatnot associated with those crafts.
Caller: What school did you go to?
Lazar: I'd rather not say, the reason being I am currently working with them under contract, and I'm having enough trouble with this as it is.
From "Alien Contact", by Timothy Good, in a March 1990 interview:
"Bob told me that he had attended Pierce Junior College, California, then the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech), and the California State University at Northridge. A period of employment by Fairchild was followed by a return to Cal Tech. He claims to have obtained master's degrees in physics (his thesis: Magnetohydrodynamics) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and in electronics from Cal Tech. To date, no evidence for these degrees has been forthcoming. Although physicist Stanton Friedman has been able to verify that Lazar did indeed attend both Pierce Junior College and California State University, he drew a blank at MIT. 'There's no trace of him at MIT and no record of him having attended any course. Maybe he took a lot of courses but didn't get a degree - that's a possibility'".
(Note of correction from TM: In personal correspondence, Stanton Friedman informed me that Good's statement about Friedman's verifications was in error. The only school Friedman was able to find evidence of Lazar's attendance at was Pierce College. Friedman stated to me he drew a blank on Lazar at Cal State Northridge.)
From the Pre-Sentence Report, dated 7/27/90, for Lazar's pandering conviction. This was as related by Lazar to the Parole/Probation officer preparing the report:
From the "Ultimate UFO Seminar" at Rachel, Nevada, May 1, 1993:
Question: Bob, could you tell us about your education? I've heard a lot of conflicting things; I'd like to hear from you.
Lazar: That varies widely. As far as electronic technology, my degree there is from CalTech and physics is from MIT.
Question: Did you go to Pierce College?
Lazar: Yeah, I did. Where did you hear that?
Question: A friend that said something, somebody I don't even know. I just thought, it's something I want to ask, to clear my mind.
Lazar: Yeah, I went to Pierce and Northridge and then...I'm terrible at dates. I don't know what date I was at Pierce, probably like in seventy-six or something, I was at Pierce and then seventy-seven or eight I went to Northridge just for a short time for some classes, then I was at CalTech, and MIT after that.
Question: What was the year of your graduation from MIT, and did you get a Ph.D.?
Lazar: No, it was a Masters Degree. The year. What was the year of graduation? Probably 82.
On the "Lark and Craig Morning Show" KOMP 92.3 FM, November 1994
Craig: Well, you're a smart guy. Where did you go to school? How many degrees do you have?
Lazar: Two degrees.
Craig: In what?
Lazar: Physics and Electronic Technology.
Craig: So what is that? A Ph.D.? What is that?
Lazar: No, they're Masters degrees.
Craig: Masters degrees.
To summarize Lazar's academic claims on the basis of his public statements he received the following:
Note that there is a reasonable amount of consistency to his story over its various tellings. However, at Lazar's Rachel talk he said he went to CalTech, then MIT.
There is a lot of data to cover, so for a first pass through, let us just look at where Lazar was at various points in time, and consider the possibilities of his attendance at the various schools he's claimed.
Lazar graduated from high school in August of 1976 on Long Island, New York. Following that, the Lazar family moved to California, purchasing a home in the San Fernando Valley in June of 1977. It's reasonable to assume that they had rented something in the area prior to purchasing the house, so that would have put Lazar in the area by late 1976 or early 1977.
Lazar has claimed to have attended Pierce College, a 2 year community college, in 1976. His attendance at this college, although not the precise time period, has been verified by Stanton Friedman. Lazar's attendance at Pierce is quite likely given that he would have lived fairly close at that point in time.
Also in this general period, Lazar claimed to have attended Cal State Northridge "...just for a short time for some classes..". This is possible and wouldn't conflict with his general whereabouts.
The next time we can pin down Lazar's whereabouts was on July 27, 1980 when he married his first wife Carol. According to the marriage certificate he was living in Canoga Park and he listed his occupation as "Electronics Engineer". Curiously, he also listed his highest grade of schooling completed as 12. His location is consistent with statements he has made about working for Fairchild Industries, which was located in the San Fernando Valley.
Moving into the future, Lazar again surfaces 2 years later in the famous "Los Alamos Monitor" Jet Car story on June 27, 1982. The paper said the Lazars had moved to Los Alamos "...about a month ago from California." >From other statements in the article, it's apparent the Lazars had been in California for some time and that he had just started work at LANL.
Yet this is the year Lazar claimed, on at least two occasions, to have received a Masters degree from MIT. However there is no evidence whatsoever that Lazar was anywhere other than California or Los Alamos during this time. Indeed, there is no evidence in ANY of the numerous public records concerning Lazar that he had ever been in or around Cambridge Massachusetts.
When Lazar filed for bankruptcy in July of 1986, the information he was required to provide gives a snapshot of his whereabouts and activities in the years immediately prior to his filing. Is there anything in this mass of data that could even remotely allow for Lazar to spend a year at CalTech, obtaining his Masters degree, as he has claimed, in 1985?
Well, in it he states that the only places he's lived in the previous 6 years were 2 addresses in Los Alamos (Note that this is already incorrect since he didn't arrive in Los Alamos until mid-1982). He also states that his occupation for the previous 6 years was as a photo processor at his residence. Oddly, Los Alamos employment was not mentioned.
It also shows that he was very active in the Los Alamos area in 1985, borrowing heavily, apparently in part to support his photo processing business. For example, the records show that in March, 1985 he borrowed $12,000 to upgrade his business's film printers. Other purchases in 1985 included a Corvette for $19,000, a number of personal loans, and finally a house in Las Vegas in June of 1985.
If we are to believe "Omni" magazine (and I'll leave that to the reader's discretion), in 1985 Lazar was on vacation in Nevada and bought into a legal brothel near Reno.
Again, the records clearly show that in 1985, and the few prior years, Lazar was either at Los Alamos or occasionally Las Vegas. There is not the slightest hint that he may have been working away at a Masters degree in Pasadena at CalTech.
Now that we have an idea of where and when Lazar was, let's take a more detailed look at what information is available for each school.
W. TRESPER CLARKE HIGH SCHOOL, WESTBURY, LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK. There doesn't seem to be any debate that Lazar did indeed attend and graduate from this school. In correspondence with Stanton Friedman, he stated to me, "Re the High School. Bob was graduated in August, not June, 1976, strongly suggesting that he had to take a summer course to get enough credits. He ranked 261 out of 369 (bottom third). He did take Chemistry. I obtained this information myself first hand from the school. They will undoubtedly deny giving the class rank to me since that is privacy act protected...it is a long story."
PACIFICA UNIVERSITY The statement in his Presentencing Report that he received a Bachelors degree from Pacifica, and labeled it a "correspondence university" is rather unique. I have seen a lot of statements made by Lazar concerning his education, but in none of them does he say where he received his undergraduate degree. It's a subject he seldom mentions.
Unfortunately, Pacifica University has proven difficult to locate. A number of national college directories were consulted, including those listing vocational and correspondence schools. A few of the guides were "The College Blue Book", "American Universities and Colleges" and "The McMillan Guide to Correspondence Study". Nowhere was there a Pacifica University listed.
The State of California Department of Education's Council for Private, Post-Secondary and Vocational Education was contacted. They regulate all vocational and correspondence schools within the state. They informed me that they had no listing for a Pacifica University within California, either now or in the past.
A search of statewide phone records, at least in California, did turn up a Pacifica Liquor Store, but as tempting an explanation as that might be, it probably has no relevancy. Assuming Lazar was enrolled in a correspondence school by the name of Pacifica University in the late 1970s, it would now appear to be out of business. Unless Lazar himself is forthcoming as to just where this establishment was, additional verification efforts are likely useless.
PIERCE COLLEGE Lazar's attendance at this institution has been corroborated, although the extent of his attendance is not known. This was done some time ago by Stanton Friedman.
It was also done a second time by Friedman after Lazar spoke at Rachel, Nevada in May of 1993. When asked to name some of his professors at MIT and CalTech, Lazar responded with the name "Dr. Duxler" at CalTech. According to Glenn Campbell, the only Duxler listed in the 1993 "National Faculty Directory" was a William Duxler, Director of Computing for Pierce College.
According to personal correspondence, Friedman then contacted Duxler at Pierce, who was found to teach physics and math at Pierce. Duxler stated he never taught at Caltech. Further, Duxler checked his old records and told Friedman that Lazar took at least one of his classes in the late 1970s.
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY AT NORTHRIDGE Some people looking into Lazar's schooling at Cal State Northridge may have picked up a false positive due to an interesting coincidence. There WAS a Robert Lazar who attended Cal State Northridge and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business in 1978. However a review of the photo in the 1978 CSUN yearbook, the "Sunburst", clearly shows this is not our beloved Lazar, but rather someone else.
As previously mentioned, Stanton Friedman stated that he checked with CSUN and found no evidence that Lazar had attended there. Timothy Good has apparently misstated that fact in his book "Alien Contact".
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY Standard inquiries have been made by George Knapp and Stanton Friedman and turned up nothing. Friedman informed me that he took the additional step of checking with the alumni office and at least the 1982 commencement list.
Glenn Campbell visited MIT in 1993 and searched through a number of the printed student records there. The idea behind this particular effort was that while elimination of computer records could be within the realm of possibility, it is essentially inconceivable that some agency would have the capability to change printed records that had widespread distribution.
Lazar, or any obvious misspellings of his name, was not listed in any MIT student directory between 1978 and 1990. Other publications checked included the MIT faculty/staff telephone directories from 1978-1990, the MIT "Degree List" from 1979-1990, and the 1989 "MIT Alumni/ae Register".
This exhaustive searching, coupled with the June 1982 Los Alamos "Monitor" story that puts Lazar in Los Alamos newly arrived from California, leads to the inevitable conclusion that Lazar did not attend MIT as he claims.
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY Lazar has claimed, on different occasions, a Masters degree from CalTech in either electronics or electronic technology. Standard inquiries by Friedman and Knapp found no evidence of his attendance.
A recent visit with Natalie Gilmore of the CalTech Graduate Studies Department provided some important information. CalTech does not currently have, nor has it ever had any sort of graduate degree in "electronics" or "electronic technology", or anything near those names. CalTech does offer a degree in Electrical Engineering.
Now if you have a friend or relative with an EE degree, you might, in conversation, refer to them as having a degree in "Electronics", not realizing the distinction. However, if it is YOUR degree, it is highly unlikely after all the effort it required you would misstate what it was. People with advanced degrees, particularly in the science and engineering fields, are usually quite precise in the "pronunciation" of their degrees.
Assuming Lazar had a bachelors degree from an unaccredited school (The two year schooling period and correspondence status infer this), I asked Ms. Gilmore what the possibilities were for admittance into a Masters program at CalTech. She said it was possible, although extremely slim, due to the intense competition for admittance to CalTech. She also added that the Masters programs there are one year and require full time attendance.
However, Ms. Gilmore provided some additional data that actually support Lazar's case, and in fairness should be mentioned. It seems that for most Masters programs at CalTech (including EE), a thesis is not required. Lazar has only claimed one thesis, in MHD, at MIT.
Furthermore, I had previously made a fairly exhaustive search through many years worth of the CalTech yearbook, "The Big T", and was unable to turn up any trace of Lazar. However, Ms. Gilmore informed me that graduate students are usually not included in the publication. So it would seem that my efforts in this area, as reported in the timeline, are inconclusive.
However, the lack of on-campus evidence, coupled with his physical whereabouts still force the conclusion that Lazar never attended CalTech. His statement to the probation officer of a 1985 degree is particularly absurd in view of the activities he himself listed for 1985 in his bankruptcy papers.
After plowing through all this data, it is enough to satisfy me, personally, that Lazar never attended either CalTech or MIT. Of this I am certain of beyond a reasonable doubt.
How then do I explain the mystery of why Lazar clings so tenaciously to his claims of degrees from these institutions? I can't really. To me it is one of the great mysteries of his story. I find it hard to swallow he would maintain such a story in light of all the means of verification. Of course there are other alternative explanations, but their probability is very small.
Only Lazar has the answer of why.
A note to the readers:
This pretty much concludes the series, although I have 2 more installments planned. One is a list of little nagging questions, while not full fledged flaws, are still uncomfortable loose ends to the story that perhaps Gene can explain. Then finally a wrap up where I'll look at a number of various theories from the wild to the sublime.
Back to The Bob Lazar Corner