A final report on the matter concluded that the University of Illinois dean of admissions who falsified LSAT and GPA data did so to increase his own salary.
Paul Pless, who on November 4 resigned as assistant dean for admissions at the law school, was found guilty of inflating grades and test scores of students in six of the past seven years to make incoming classes appear much smarter than they actually were.
In tweaking the numbers and making each incoming class sounds academically superior than the last class helped him boost the school’s ranking — and in turn, making his salary bigger. The report says that thanks to the increasingly higher median scores, his salary nearly doubled during his seven-year stint as admissions dean to $130,051.
The two-month investigation culminated in a 114-page report released by the university’s legal counsel and ethics office, financial advisory firm Duff & Phelps and law firm Jones Day.
The report, which puts all the blame for the faulty figures on Pless, stated that he exhibited ”gross incompetence” in his job duties and found that he ”knowingly and intentionally changed and manipulated data in order to inflate GPA and LSAT statistics and decrease acceptance rates.”
The school accepts that it is at fault for not double-checking Pless’ math. Michael Hogan, who is the president of the university, called Pless’ actions ”disappointing and regrettable,” according to a statement of his.
Sometime in late August, when the school was first called out on the fact its stellar numbers smelled fishy, the false data was quickly erased from the school’s website and a lengthy $1 million investigation then took place.
According to the report, despite the fact that the university ”effectively self-policed” itself, the school must start from scratch to repair its reputation as one of the better public law schools in the country. Inflating grades the standardized test data is misleading students being wooed and those comparing how they stack up to the current class. The numbers carry a very significant weight with the U.S. News & World Report, which uses them to rank schools.
”The college takes seriously the issues of data integrity and intends to implement the report’s recommendations promptly and comprehensively,” says Bruce Smith, who is the dean of the College of Law at the University of Illinois, in a recent statement.
One of those recommendations is to create a monitoring and auditing program to make certain that the school’s internal controls are functioning properly and that all reported to constituencies or even other third parties, whether it was internal or external, are accurate and supported.
John Colombo, who is the associate dean for academic affairs, has also been wearing the hat of interim admissions dean since Pless went on leave in early September. According to a university spokesman, he is expected to hold the post through the school year and the details on the search for a permanent replacement have not yet been determined.