University of Illinois Admits To Publishing Inaccurate Admissions Data For Six Out Of The Last Ten Years

The University of Illinois law school has been fighting to regain its footing after a scandal over the admission of students due to their political connections. Now, the school is reeling from a new controversy: the disclosure that the school has published misleading data on admissions in six out of the last ten years.

The law school disclosed the false data on Monday and blamed Paul Pless, the law school’s former assistant dean for admissions and financial aid, who resigned last week.

The school is implementing a series of reforms to prevent such problems in the future while the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar announced that it is “actively investigating” the matter.

Both inaccurate LSAT and GPA data were published for the class of 2008 and for the classes of 2010 through 2014. The school also published false acceptance rate data for the classes of 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The school accused Pless of “knowingly and intentionally” miscalculating data. These are extremely damaging allegations for Pless, who has not responded. There is an overwhelming pressure for schools to compete in such data, which are used by U.S. News and World Report to determine the rankings of schools. The ABA is likely to investigate whether that pressure came from the school administration and whether there was a culture or implicit encouragement of such “creative” reporting.

In its statement below, the school reveals:

The investigative report concluded that Paul Pless, the college’s former assistant dean for admissions and financial aid, knowingly and intentionally miscalculated key data. The admissions dean was placed on administrative leave Sept. 7 and resigned from the University last week. Over his seven-year tenure, Pless had the responsibility for reporting this data, and the college showed steady, and occasionally dramatic, improvement in the main factors used to
gauge the academic credentials of a law school class. According to the report, data analyses and the investigative records indicate that data discrepancies were not random or the result of inadvertent errors.

Illinois is a terrific school that does not deserve these controversies. It has been poorly served by administrators and past deans. The irony is that it does not need to shade the figures. It has always been a great law school with top ranked faculty and students.

Here is the full statement: Nov7.Law

ABA Journal and Washington Post

12 thoughts on “University of Illinois Admits To Publishing Inaccurate Admissions Data For Six Out Of The Last Ten Years”

  1. Back in 1990 when I was getting ready to apply to law school I went an bought a copy of a guide to all of the accredited law schools in the U.S. (I think it was published by U.S. News) I also had materials, either from the review course I was taking or from the LSAT itself, which had a break-down of the number of people taking the LSAT and the score distribution. Looking at the plain numbers it was absolutely impossible for all of the top law schools to have the average LSAT scores they were reporting. There simply were not enough people getting the high scores reported as an average by these schools. I just assumed that the averages that were being reported were most likely for un-connected white males.

    My first choice was were I went to undergrad, The University of Texas. They had a policy that if your combined LSAT (The max score at the time was a 42) and GPA equaled 75, and if you were at UT undergrad you automatically got in. My combined score was 74 an I got a letter saying I was wait-listed (if enough accepted students opted to go elsewhere I’d get in, maybe a semester late) I ended up going to Tulane and getting fat from eating like a king for three years.

    Several years later I learned about a law suit ( by a white guy) who had been denied admission to The University of Texas, who had better scores than numerous persons from “suspect classes”. He had applied at the same time I did. The law school lost the suit and admitted that they had a system rigged in favor of women and minorities. I’m think afrimative action is fine if the schools are honest about it. I suspect alot are not. I think I got a top rate education at Tulane. I ended up paying about 4 times as much as I would have as an in-state resident at UT. (And I got fat )

  2. What Blouise said. Also, I suspect Paul Pless, while culpable, is the fall guy for those at the top. At least they came clean, which is more than other law schools can say.

  3. I went there as an undergraduate and also stayed for an MS. This was long ago, back right after the Pete Elliott football scandal. I realize in hindsight that the U of I was just a large bureaucratic corporation, subject to immense political pressures.

    PS – to prospective students – much better to go to a small school for BS/BA and leave places like U of Illinois for graduate or professional school (though obviously even these have problems)

  4. Come on, Illinois. You owe your alumni better oversight. Those of us who have contributed regularly to College of Law fundraising campaigns are not encouraged to do so when those funds are used not to improve the quallity of education but to ferret out and address egregious dishonesty. That $$ should be paid back by Pless and any other administrators who should have been exercising better oversight over this process, particularly because law is a profession so dependent on professional ethics. Where is Ron Rotunda when you need him?
    Terri A. Class of ’91

  5. I’d guess that a number of colleges and universities in this country have manipulated test scores and other information that is taken into account by U.S. News and World Report when determining the rankings of schools.

  6. If its False it is False…Then those responsible should bear the brunt of the consequences…

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