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