Broward's interim CEO holds degree from defunct diploma mill: Finding raises questions about board selection process, candidate qualifications

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Broward Health's leadership is making headlines again — this time for the validity of interim CEO Beverly Capasso's master's degree.

Ms. Capasso, RN, who was named interim CEO in May, holds a master's in healthcare administration from Kennedy-Western University, a diploma mill that shut down in 2009 after it failed to receive accreditation, according to a report from the Sun Sentinel. The mail and online university was specifically called out in a 2004 congressional investigation into diploma mills, which award degrees for little work. An undercover agent was able to complete 40 percent of an engineering master's degree at Kennedy-Western with just 16 hours of studying, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Although Broward requires its CEOs to hold master's degrees, North Broward Hospital District Chairman Rocky Rodriguez said in a statement Ms. Capasso was chosen for her executive experience and knowledge of the industry. In a statement emailed to Becker's, Mr. Rodriguez said, "We are pleased to have Beverly Capasso serving as Broward Health’s interim president and CEO. She is a seasoned healthcare professional with over 15 years of extensive and valuable experience as an executive in the healthcare industry, as well as a deep understanding of public healthcare systems. Prior to her appointment, Mrs. Capasso, served as a member of the North Broward Hospital District Board of Commissioners, senior vice president and chief executive officer at Jackson Memorial Hospital, and chief administrative officer at Cleveland Clinic Florida."

Ms. Capasso holds a bachelor's in nursing from an accredited university and has served as administrative director for emergency services at Northwest Medical Center in Margate, Fla., CNO of North Shore Medical Center in Miami, chief administrative officer of Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Fla., and most recently was CEO of Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

In an op-ed, the Sun Sentinel editorial board wrote, "We also believe choosing to get a degree from a diploma mill says something about a person's character, or judgment. That said, the choice should not forever define the person's pedigree."

Instead, the newspaper believes Ms. Capasso, who has dodged all questions about her degree from Kennedy-Western, fell short by not admitting her mistake. "A better test of a public leader's mettle is the ability to forthrightly answer questions when the going gets rough," the editorial board wrote. The Sun Sentinel also holds the Broward Health board responsible for its inability to move the system forward amid turmoil — Ms. Capasso is the third interim CEO the system has had since its former CEO Nabil El Sanadi, MD, committed suicide in 2015 — and lack of due diligence in checking out Ms. Capasso's background.

"The bigger question in all this is why Broward Health continues to lack a permanent CEO more than a year and a half after its previous chief executive committed suicide," the op-ed reads.

Ms. Capasso was awarded a $650,000 salary for her position at Broward Health, according to the report. The health system did not comment on if her education was a factor in determining her salary.


Editor's note: This article was updated July 11, 2017 at 5:20 p.m. CT to include a full statement from Rocky Rodriguez.

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