At least two impressive careers have been hurt by last week’s news that Emory misreported student data to national ranking groups.
The AJC is reporting that two former university top admissions officials resigned their current jobs in the wake of last week’s announcement by the Emory president that an internal review uncovered the misreporting of student SAT and ACT scores. (Emory deserves credit for conducting the probe and coming forward with the findings.)
It is still unclear why the wrong data was submitted as there is no evidence yet that the difference in the test scores reported — students admitted to Emory versus students choosing to enroll — was enough to boost ranking to a significant degree.
The grand poo-pah of college rankings — U.S. News & World Report — contends that the inflated data did not impact Emory’s current top 20 ranking. A magazine spokesman told the AJC that the university would have retained its ranking with the revised scores.
The score gap is not that dramatic. In 2010, the school reported a score range of 1310 to 1500; the corrected range was 1270 t0 1460. (Emory has a lot of details here.) The private university attracts bright students and sends many graduates to top med schools and law schools.
Former Emory admissions deans Dan Walls and Jean Jordan resigned their current positions with Atlanta private schools this weekend in apparent fallout from this scandal. I don’t know either personally, but have heard them speak on panels and always found them knowledgeable. They were often quoted in the national press as experts on admissions issues.
In an exclusive interview, the AJC spoke with Walls.
“I have to take responsibility even though some of the data was delegated to others,” Dan Walls said. “It happened under my deanship.”
Walls was Emory’s dean of admissions from 1983 to 2007 and was associate vice president of enrollment management from 2007 to 2010.
Jean Jordan followed Walls as admissions dean, filling that role from 2007 to 2011. Jordan did not return phone calls and a man who answered the door at her home Monday declined to comment.
Since at least 2000, Emory overstated SAT and ACT scores by reporting marks for admitted students instead of those enrolled, President Jim Wagner said last week. This inflated Emory’s scores because admitted students have higher averages. Wagner and other officials described the deception as intentional and systemic.
Emory officials said those involved in the data deception no longer work at the college. They declined to name them, citing personnel matters. Wagner said two former admissions deans and leadership of its institutional research office were aware of the faulty data.
Walls said the department historically compiled SAT and ACT data for admitted students. However some ranking publications compile their lists using figures for enrolled students. “The correct information was not submitted and it should have been,” Walls said.
The incorrect data was reported to third parties and was used by those who rank colleges. U.S. News & World Report said Friday that the faulty data would not have affected the school’s current No. 20 ranking and would likely have had a “small to negligible effect” in the years prior. Emory has been a top 20 school for 19 years. New rankings are expected as soon as next month.
Walls cited the U.S. News comments to dispute the idea that the faulty data was an attempt to boost the college’s standing.
Walls said he spoke with Emory investigators about the situation.The internal investigation was triggered in May after John Latting, the new dean of admissions, noticed the data discrepancy and reported it to the provost. Emory’s general counsel conducted a three-month investigation and brought in the law firm Jones Day to assist.
The investigation found the college overstated students’ class rankings. And Emory “may have” excluded the scores of the bottom 10 percent of students when reporting SAT/ACT scores, GPAs and other information, officials said. This practice was not done after 2004, officials said.
The review was unable to determine how long the college had been reporting the incorrect numbers or why it started. The report found no involvement by other deans, the provost or Wagner, who has been president since 2003.
After leaving Emory, Walls became the senior associate director of college counseling at Pace Academy, a prominent Atlanta private school. He resigned from that position over the weekend. “It was a mutual decision that it would be best if I not continue there,” Walls said. After leaving Emory, Jordan served as the director of Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School’s college counseling, another well-known Atlanta private school. Jordan resigned over the weekend and wrote in her resignation letter that she was leaving “to pursue another endeavor,” Headmaster Eugene Bratek told the AJC.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog