On appeal from the final decision of the New Jersey State Board of Psychological Examiners.
Botter, Polow and Brody. The opinion of the court was delivered by Polow, J.A.D.
[186 NJSuper Page 179] Appellant Henry Tugender attacks a ruling of the New Jersey Board of Psychological Examiners (Board) which prohibits his
use of the title Doctor and the designation Ph.D. in practicing his profession as a licensed psychologist in this State. The Board's determination was based upon the admitted fact that his doctorate was granted by an unaccredited institution. Appellant urges that the Board's action was arbitrary, capricious and ultra vires and should be overturned. We disagree and affirm.
Tugender has been licensed to practice psychology in this State since 1968, based upon his master's degree in psychology from Long Island University and eight years of clinical experience. The law did not then mandate that the applicant hold a doctor of philosophy degree in psychology, as it presently does for licensure as a psychologist. N.J.S.A. 45:14B-17.
Tugender testified that after earning his master's degree he attended the Arizona State University doctoral program but became disenchanted because of conflicting philosophies espoused by competing faculty factions. He then returned to New York where he learned of an "innovative" new school in Florida, East Coast University, offering courses leading to a Ph.D. in psychology. He seized the opportunity since it required only two eight-week summer residencies. The balance of the degree requirements could be met by independent study courses which the faculty reviewed by correspondence or by telephone. He was awarded a doctoral degree from East Coast University in 1970, subsequent to his licensure as a psychologist in this State. He immediately began to use the titles Doctor and Ph.D. with his name in all professional activities and to hold himself out as a Doctor of Philosophy in all contact with patients and colleagues.
East Coast University, now defunct, was never accredited by the State of Florida or any other state or by any regional association. When the Board became aware of Tugender's status he was advised he could no longer hold himself out as a Doctor of Philosophy. Upon his objection a hearing was conducted, following which the Board ruled that his use of the
designation Ph.D. violated the Practicing Psychology Licensing Act, N.J.S.A. 45:14B-1 et seq. Accordingly, he was ordered to "cease and desist in connection with his professional psychological practice the use of the titles 'Dr.' or 'Ph.D.' . . . ." The final determination imposed no monetary sanction; however, Tugender had previously submitted payment of $500 "to be held in escrow pending the ultimate disposition of this controversy." Thus, we assume that if it has not already done so, the Board intends to reimburse him.
Tugender challenges the statutory authority of the Board to prevent his use of the questioned titles based upon his "degree" from East Coast University. He contends that the Board lacks the power to prohibit his use of such titles and that its action contravenes the public policy of the State of New Jersey.
N.J.A.C. 13:42-4.1(a)(1)(xvii) describes as "misconduct" failure of "licensees to observe and be guided by the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association [APA]. . . ." Those ethical standards include the following relevant requirement:
Principle 4. Public Statements
a. When announcing or advertising professional services, psychologists may list the following information as a description of provider and services provided: name, highest relevant academic degree earned from a ...