Emorygate—They do too know why it happened

(Editorial disclosure: My son attends Oxford College of Emory University.)

News broke Friday about Emory’s admissions data scandal, and we’re seeing broader coverage of the issue in this morning’s news. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution looks at the effects on donations and admissions (who knows?), and Inside Higher Ed has an article on the scandal as well. First of all, here’s what Emory admissions officials did (as reported in the AJC):

The school’s internal investigation found that officials:

— Used SAT/ACT data for admitted students instead of enrolled students since at least 2000. Using admitted students’ information artificially inflated Emory’s test scores. For example, officials reported that the 25th- to 75th-percentile SAT scores for the 2010 cohort were 1310 to 1500, when they were actually 1270 to 1460.

— Overstated the percent of incoming students who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. Emory said that 87 percent came from the top 10 percent in 2010 cohort, when it was actually 75 percent.

— May have excluded the scores of the bottom 10 percent of students when reporting SAT/ACT scores, GPAs and those in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. Evidence suggests this did not happen after 2004.

Emory posted more information at: www.emory.edu/datareview.

And from Inside Higher Ed:

Administrators said the investigation was designed to answer three questions: “whether incorrect data were submitted; if incorrect data were submitted, who was responsible; and if incorrect data were submitted, how and why did that practice begin.”

While the university got an answer to the first two questions, the third was left unanswered. Steve Sencer, the university’s general counsel, said the university and Jones Day interviewed many people and reviewed thousands of e-mails and that administrators were “confident that the investigation was thorough.” Emory administrators would not say who was included in the investigation.

Emory’s top officials know why this happened, but they can’t say because that will open up a can of worms—maybe two or three. The practice stopped because there was a new sheriff in town who read the school’s mission statement about being “ethicially engaged.” (And whatever happened to simply being ethical?) Anyway, they felt that they had to come clean, and they’re trying to do it as painlessly as possible, by merely confessing and weathering a news-cycle storm that they hope will go away.

Obviously, it was an attempt to make the school look more prestigious academically. The school is ranked 20th in the nation. And while U.S. News and World Report claims that this latest disclosure wouldn’t have affected Emory’s ranking, I wonder where Emory will be on the list next year. (And by the way, about 400 students from Oxford join Emory’s student body for their junior year, and Oxford’s admission stats are lower than Emory’s. The average Oxford student’s test scores are higher than the typical University of Georgia freshman and lower than a Georgia Tech enrollee.)

Prestige brings applications from top students and more prestige. It also brings money. The last time I checked, Emory had the 13th largest endowment among American universities, and while it has a generous financial aid program, the sticker price is steep—among the highest in the land, and more expensive than several Ivy League schools. It ranks 20th academically, but its expenses are 12th highest among that elite group.

Here’s the list of Top Twenty National Universities, accourding to U.S. News:

  1. Harvard
  2. Princeton
  3. Yale
  4. Columbia
  5. Californis Institute of Technology
  6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  7. Stanford University
  8. University of Chicago
  9. University of Pennsylvania
  10. Duke University
  11. Dartmouth College
  12. Northwestern
  13. Johns Hopkins
  14. Washington University of St. Louis
  15. Brown University
  16. Cornell University
  17. Rice University
  18. Vanderbilt University
  19. University of Notre Dame
  20. Emory University

Source: U.S. News and World Report

Here’s the sticker Price of the Top Twenty, from high to low:

  1. $61,882 – Darthmouth
  2. 61,639 – Washington University, St. Louis
  3. 61,549 – Columbia
  4. 61,132 – Northwestern
  5. 60,820 – Johns Hopkins
  6. 60,274 – Vanderbilt
  7. 60,034 – Brown
  8. 59,591 – Cornell
  9. 59,429 – Penn
  10. 58,536 – Stanford
  11. 58,180 – Emory
  12. 57,950 – Harvard
  13. 57,711 – U. Chicago
  14. 57,355 – Notre Dame
  15. 57,010 – MIT
  16. 56,382 – CalTech
  17. 55,465 – Princeton
  18. 56,300 – Yale
  19. 56,056 – Duke
  20. 52,242 – Rice

Source: College Board

Emory University officials claim they can’t say why this cheating occurred, and they might be right. I suspect they read the investigative report, found out why the cheating occurred, looked up in horror at each other, and said, “We can’t say that” because it might cause a political backlash. So they’re going to try to weather the storm, try to do right, and A) either their freshman stats fall, or B) they ride the insanity that is the elite-school admissions process and come out smelling like a rose bush that’s fertilized with manure.

Read more: Inside Higher Ed; Atlanta Journal-Constution.

Ex-Bulldog coach charged in big-bucks Ponzi scheme

UGA did fire him. Just wanted to point that out.

Breaking news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Former University of Georgia football coach Jim Donnan is facing federal fraud charges in connection with an alleged $80 million Ponzi scheme that authorities said included other college coaches and former players among its victims.

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday announced the charges against Donnan, who allegedly teamed up with an Ohio man to conduct the Ponzi scheme.

SEC spokesman John Nestor said in a statement that Donnan and business partner Gregory Crabtree of Proctorville, Ohio, conducted the fraud through a West Virginia-based wholesale liquidation company called GLC Limited, which was supposed to be buying leftover merchandise from major retailers and reselling the items.

Donnan and Crabtree “promised investors exorbitant rates of return ranging from 50 to 380 percent,” Nestor said. “However, only about $12 million of the $80 million raised from nearly 100 investors was actually used to purchase leftover merchandise, and the remaining funds were used to pay fake returns to earlier investors or stolen for other uses by Donnan and Crabtree.”

Read more. 


Turmoil, mayhem at UGA’s student newspaper

What the heck is going on over at my old school?

There’s been a disturbing turn of events in Athens. The University of Georgia’s student newspaper has fallen under government control–or at least some kind of parental supervision. (Since 1980, the Red & Black has been independent, i.e., UGA’s administration doesn’t run the paper, so this sounds like a civil war.) Non-students are now in charge, and there’s been a walkout by student journalists and a new policy of covering more “good” stories and making fewer “mistakes.” All very odd and unannounced.

The former editor has set up a blog, Red and Dead, to broadcast the resistance, along with a twitter account, of course. However, when I went to check out the dissidents’ Twitter account, @redanddead815, I saw that it had been suspended. Meanwhile The Red and Black is covering fashion for funerals. How ominous.

From OnlineAthens:

The student editorial staff of the University of Georgia’s The Red & Black newspaper walked out Wednesday evening after a non-student was named editorial director with final say on all editorial content.

The Red & Black’s student editor-in-chief, Polina Marinova, along with other top student editors and staff members, walked out after Ed Morales, who had been the paper’s editorial adviser and then became editorial director, was given full editorial control of the newspaper.

“The students have lost control of the paper, and a student newspaper is supposed to be run by students,” Amanda Jones, design editor for The Red & Black, said in a phone interview. “We’re losing power while they are hiring permanent employees that are not students. We are losing control. At this point, every single top staffer walked out.”

Read more.