Emory U: False data sent to rankings groups

Jean Jordan, who served as dean of admissions from 2007 to 2011, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. Daniel Walls, whom Jordan succeeded in 2007, when he was named associate vice provost for enrollment management, is listed as a retiree in Emory’s phone directory, but the number is disconnected. He is also listed on the counseling staff of a local private school but could not be reached.

Emory is the latest school caught up in what many educators consider a destructive race to move up in the US News rankings. But this latest case is arguably the most prominent yet and will only increase speculation that such practices are widespread in higher education.

Emory was ranked 20th in the latest edition of the magazine’s list of “America’s Best Colleges.”

Earlier this year, a senior administrator at Claremont McKenna College in California resigned after acknowledging he falsified college entrance exam scores for years to rankings publications. However, a report released by the college in April found attempts to fudge the rankings weren’t to blame; rather the report concluded the practice came because of a disagreement with the president on admissions strategy.

Still, the list of schools appearing to lose their moral compass under rankings pressure is growing. Because the rankings rely largely on self-reported data, education experts believe many more will eventually be caught.

In 2008, Baylor University was criticized for its brief practice of paying already admitted students to retake the SATs in what was considered a transparent ploy to boost its average scores.

Clemson University attracted attention when an official there said the school was manipulating class sizes and giving rival schools low marks in the rankings’ reputational survey as part of its efforts to move up.

Law schools, meanwhile, face growing criticism for fudging job placement data they report to rankings magazines to make it look like their graduates are doing better in the market.

“We deplore the long-standing misreporting which Emory made public today, but we’re encouraged that the university disclosed it,” said U.S. News & World Report’s editor, Brian Kelly, in an emailed statement. “We appreciate the university’s commitment to fixing its data process.”