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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

GraceMed CEO announces resignation amidst academic fraud allegations

Wichita State records show Lee attended WSU, did not graduate
%28Illustration%29
Cameryn Davis
(Illustration)

Venus Lee, the CEO of GraceMed Health Clinic, resigned last week following an investigation that disputed the legitimacy of her academic credentials. 

Lee, who had been with the company for 14 years, claimed to have a master’s in business administration (MBA) from Wichita State University and a doctorate in theology from Emory University. The Sunflower’s examination of Wichita State directories, commencement guides, and graduate records revealed that Lee attended Wichita State from 1989 to 1990 under the name Venus L. Thomas, contrary to her claims that her degrees were earned under different names.

 Lee’s credentials were brought into question in January by whistleblower Marty Keenan, a former attorney for GraceMed. In an interview with KWCH, Keenan said he first became suspicious of Lee’s education when he uncovered a verified document that contradicted Lee’s claims and her GraceMed bio. 

Keenan said he found no evidence that Lee possessed either degree she claimed to have earned. He quit the company soon after.

After receiving an anonymous tip about the conflicting claims in March, Christopher Brunet, a contributing editor at The American Conservative and a writer for Karlstack, investigated further and contacted both WSU and Emory University. 

According to the initial investigation published by Brunet on his Substack page, Emory University confirmed that there was no record of a “Venus Lee” in the school’s ThD (doctor of theology) program. Emory also confirmed to Brunet that there was no degree under Lee’s maiden name and no degree under the name “Venus” in its Thesis and Dissertation repository. A dissertation is required for graduating doctoral students.

The Wichita Business Journal also confirmed through Emory University that there was no record of Lee’s degree.

Lee claimed to have proof of her degrees but refused to show them to Keenan, Brunet, The Wichita Business Journal and other media publications. In mid-March, GraceMed issued a statement that said Lee “has no credentials under the names of Venus, Lee, Thatcher, or Thomas” but did not specify under what name Lee allegedly had her degrees under. 

Lee and GraceMed did not reply to The Sunflower’s request for an interview.

Last week, The Wichita Business Journal reported that WSU confirmed Lee attended the university briefly in the late 1980s and again in the early 1990s but was unable to provide any record of an MBA.

A screenshot of an email conversation between Allison Campbell, a news editor for The Sunflower, and Christopher Brunet, the author of the Karlstack article that exposed Lee’s false educational claims. 

According to research conducted by The Sunflower in Ablah Library’s Special Collections, Lee was listed in the 1989-1990 directory under the name “Venus L. Thomas.” She was listed as a freshman at the University College (UC). In the 1990s, all incoming freshmen at Wichita State were enrolled in the UC program before being admitted to a specific school of study. Directories and commencement guides from 1990 to 2005 did not show anyone with the names “Venus,” “Lee,” “Thatcher” or “Thomas” who graduated with a bachelor’s or master’s in business administration.

In a second article, Brunet reported that the names “Venus Lee” and “Venus Thatcher” also appeared in attendance records from 1993-1994. The Sunflower emailed Brunet asking him to share the documentation to corroborate these years, but Brunet refused, stating that he “can’t trust or work with people with pronouns.”

The Sunflower’s investigation did not find the names “Venus Lee” or “Venus Thatcher” in the 1993-1994 directory.

Since Lee’s resignation, the GraceMed marketing firm said, “There is no additional information to be released,” according to KWCH. In Lee’s absence, Dr. Julie Elder will serve as the company’s interim CEO.

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About the Contributors
Allison Campbell
Allison Campbell, News Editor
Allison Campbell is one of the news editors for The Sunflower. Campbell is a junior pursuing a journalism and media production degree with a minor in English. Campbell hopes to pursue a career in writing or editing after graduation. They use any pronouns.
Cameryn Davis
Cameryn Davis, Illustrator/Designer
Cameryn Davis is an illustrator and designer for The Sunflower. She is a freshman at Wichita State University majoring in secondary English education and hopes to become TESOL certified. Davis plans to eventually teach the English language in Brazil. She uses she/her pronouns.

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