U of I says data for incoming law school class was ‘inflated’

September 12, 2011

City Room and the Associated Press

(Flickr/Miracc, file)

University of Illinois officials say a law school dean of admissions is on administrative leave after the university received complaints that grade and standardized test data for the incoming class had been inflated on university literature.

Tom Hardy, spokesman for the university, said the school recieved calls that the data -- grade point averages and median Law School Admissions Test scores of incoming law students -- had been inflated on the school's website and in promotional publications. The university's ethics office recieved the first tip in August, and Hardy said the college community was informed of the issue on Friday.

Hardy said he doesn't think this will cast a bad light on the school's reputation.

"We have one of the top law schools in the country and we have had for some time. I don't think-- barring something I don't know -- that would alter that situation," he said.

Hardy said the university will also be conducing an investigation, lead by the ethics and unversity council offices. The University of Illinois has hired Duff & Phelps, an independent advisory firm, and Theodore Chung of the Chicago office of the law firm Jones Day to conduct the review.

The College of Law snapshot data has multiple purposes: it can be used for recruiting students, for prospective students to figure out how they measure up with the current class, and also as part of the university's application for accreditation to the American Bar Association. The ABA has spoken out against law schools in the past that have intentionally inflated their test and GPA data. Last month, the ABA sanctioned Villanova University's law school for innacurately reporting data about their incoming class, calling their actions "reprehensible." An ABA spokeswoman said she could not comment on the University of Illinois investigation.

Ranking agencies like US News and World Report use the data in their annual reports. The University of Illinois Law School ranked 23rd on the most recent list of the nation's top law schools in its publication.

The university will not release the name of the dean who is on leave. John Columbo has taken over as acting dean of admissions for the law school.