State senator’s website cites nonexistent degree

By Andrew Ryan
Globe Staff / October 29, 2010

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State Senator Anthony W. Petruccelli, an East Boston Democrat running for reelection against a Republican challenger, erroneously claims on his campaign website that he is a graduate of the University of Rochester in New York.

Petruccelli, 38, attended the college from 1991-1995, but records show he did not graduate and “does not have a degree from the University of Rochester,’’ according to school spokeswoman Sharon A. Dickman.

Asked yesterday about the biography on his website, Petruccelli said he fell two classes short and never completed the requirements for a degree.

“I guess it’s a mistake that should be corrected,’’ Petruccelli said, adding that he walked in the graduation ceremony but received a blank diploma.

A 2007 Globe report about Petruccelli after he won a special election to the state Senate said he graduated from “the University of Rochester in 1995, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in political science.’’ Petruccelli said yesterday he has no memory of the article.

His official State House biography lists the University of Rochester under education but does not specify a degree.

The inaccuracy came to light when a Globe reporter asked questions about the resume of his challenger, Frank J. Addivinola Jr. The Republican’s website lists an undergraduate degree from Williams College and six graduate degrees. All seven of Addivinola’s degrees were verified, but the one listed as “ALM in Biology, Harvard University’’ is not entirely clear.

Addivinola received the master of liberal arts degree in 1996 from the Harvard Extension School, not the university’s more prestigious Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. A spokeswoman said yesterday that Addivinola followed the guidelines at the time for listing his degree. The school now urges new graduates to include “extension studies’’ in the description.

When the Globe asked Addivinola about his degrees, he said he had heard Petruccelli did not really graduate from the University of Rochester.

“While my opponent was in the classroom learning about theory, I was out in the neighborhoods working on the real thing,’’ Petruccelli said yesterday.

“I’ll put my record of serving and making a difference in people’s lives . . . up against seven degrees any day of the week.’’