Paul L. Caron

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Columbia Admits Submitting Incorrect Data That Goosed Its U.S. News Ranking To #2

Columbia US News

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Wall Street Journal,  Columbia Acknowledges Reporting Incorrect Figures in Past U.S. News Ranking:

Columbia University incorrectly reported figures in two categories to the U.S. News & World Report college rankings, the school said Friday, confirming some allegations lodged by a math professor at the school earlier this year.

In response to the concerns raised by Professor Michael Thaddeus on his faculty website, the school said in June that it would review past years’ data submissions and wouldn’t participate in this year’s U.S. News & World Report ranking of the nation’s best colleges. ...

Also Friday, the school released two sets of numbers for what is known as the Common Data Set, a standardized set of figures that schools can voluntarily publish detailing information about student enrollment, graduation rates, financial aid and faculty, among other subjects [Understanding Columbia's Common Data Set].

Washington Post, Columbia Acknowledges Giving Incorrect Data for U.S. News Rankings:

Columbia University disclosed Friday that it had reported faulty data on class size and faculty credentials to a publication that produces widely known college rankings — errors that it attributed to a reliance on “outdated and/or incorrect methodologies.”

With the acknowledgment of the embarrassing missteps, the Ivy League university in New York expressed contrition over problems that appeared to have been first identified by a whistleblowing math professor skeptical of how Columbia had come to be ranked second in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. ...

“We deeply regret the deficiencies in our prior reporting and are committed to doing better,” Columbia’s provost, Mary Boyce, said in the statement. ...

U.S. News published last year a chart showing 83 percent of Columbia’s classes in fall 2020 had fewer than 20 students. It was the highest such share reported that year among the top 50 universities. ... Columbia confirmed Friday that the share of undergraduate classes in fall 2021 with under 20 students was 57 percent. 

The university also confirmed that the share of full-time faculty with terminal degrees was 95.4 percent. The faculty whistleblower, Michael Thaddeus, has written that Columbia previously claimed the share with terminal degrees was 100 percent. ...

Thaddeus said he was flabbergasted to see the data and was reviewing the information. He questioned other figures Columbia has provided over the years about class sizes.

“It’s hard to believe that this was an inadvertent error or a minor matter of methodology,” Thaddeus said. “More likely, someone in the University knew that there was serious misrepresentation afoot. If so, who was it?”

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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