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Emory University: False academic data sent to ranking groups

For more than a decade, Emory University intentionally misreported data about students to groups that rank colleges nationwide, the president of the private liberal arts college in Atlanta said Friday.

“As an institution that challenges itself, in the words of our vision statement, to be ‘ethically engaged,’ Emory has not been well served by representatives of the university in this history of misreporting. I am deeply disappointed,” said Emory President James W. Wagner in a statement on the university’s website.

Wagner said Emory officials launched an investigation in May after John Latting, the new assistance vice provost for undergraduate enrollment and dean of admissions, discovered discrepancies in data.

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Wagner said SAT/ACT scores were overstated, as well as the class rankings. “Specifically, he discovered that reported SAT/ ACT scores were those for admitted undergraduate students, not the requested scores for enrolled students, which were somewhat lower. A similar misrepresentation was discovered in data for our entering students’ high school class rank,” according to a statement released by Emory.

The investigation also found that two former deans of admission and the leadership of the Office of Institutional Research were aware of the misreporting. They are no longer employed at Emory, according to Emory officials.

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Emory is routinely listed as one of the nation's top colleges by national publications, such as U.S. News & World Report, Forbes and Peterson’s, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Families and students across the nation often rely on rankings when deciding where to apply for college. University officials say they do not know if the wrong data affected Emory’s rankings.

In 2011, U.S. News ranked Emory No. 20 among national public and private universities across the nation.

The university has about 13,300 students across Emory's nine divisions, including its graduate and professional schools, according to the university's website.

Other universities have run into trouble recently over false or misleading data. Some of the cases:

  • In July, The University of Illinois College of Law was fined $250,000 by the American Bar Association for intentionally publishing false data about student academic standings, The Chicago Tribune reported.
  • In January, Claremont McKenna College in California admitted sending false SAT scores to U.S. News & World Report and other publications, the New York Times reported.
  • In November, Iona College in New York said it had misrepresented data over a decade, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

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