News and Analysis


U.S. News & World Report

The GW Law School fell from the list of the top 20 law schools in the country in the latest rankings by U.S. News & World Report. File Photo by Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The GW Law School fell from the list of the top 20 law schools in the country in the latest rankings by U.S. News & World Report. File Photo by Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The GW Law School slid out of the list of the top 20 law schools in the country while other graduate programs improved in the rankings released by U.S. News & World Report this week.

The law school is now ranked No. 22 nationwide, tied with programs at the University of Alabama, the University of Iowa and the University of Notre Dame. GW had previously tied for No. 20 with the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and the University of Southern California, but the school held onto its No. 2 ranking for part-time programs.

The selectivity of the school’s full-time law programs dipped for the second consecutive year, but other factors in the rankings, like median LSAT scores and median undergraduate GPA, held steady. Last spring, University officials hired Blake D. Morant to lead the school.

GW School of Business graduate programs rose seven spots to No. 58, tying with Baylor University and the University of Alabama. The school had dropped nine places last year to No. 65. The Graduate School of Education and Human Development also leaped forward three places to tie with three other schools at No. 55, after sliding down 11 spots last year.

Both schools saw large improvements in the rankings for online program, with GSEHD making the top 10 for online education programs and the business school jumping up 20 spots to No. 44 for its online MBA program.

GSEHD is in the middle of implementing an 18-month plan to improve enrollment, which has included creating more online courses.

The business school is in its first year of leadership under Dean Linda Livingstone. The previous dean, Doug Guthrie, was fired after the school overspent by about $13 million.

The engineering school saw a steep drop in the rankings, with graduate programs falling nine places to No. 99 and tying with four other institutions. Administrators hope the recent opening of the Science and Engineering Hall will improve the reputation of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, whose graduate programs improved to No. 90 in the nation last year.

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences also took a hit, dropping from No. 60 to 67 for research and tying with four other medical schools. School leaders are looking to raise $225 million in the next few years as part of the University’s $1 billion fundraising campaign, with about $50 million of the money SMHS raises expected to go toward research.

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GW's online programs in education and business saw their rankings increase this year, while the School of Nursing's ranking slipped. Hatchet file photo.

GW’s online programs in education and business rose in the rankings this year, while the School of Nursing’s ranking slipped. Hatchet File Photo

GW’s education and business online programs rebounded in the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

The programs, which dropped in the rankings last year, shot up this year. The School of Nursing fell from last year’s all-time high.

The annual rankings come as GW has placed a higher priority on offering new online degree programs to attract more students and make up for a decline in graduate enrollment. Nationally, fewer students have applied to graduate school as the economy has picked up since the 2008 recession.

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development jumped into the top 10 of online graduate education programs, tying at No. 8 with Auburn and Ball State universities.

The school, which is in the middle of an 18-month plan to increase enrollment and introduce new academic programs, saw enrollment drop 22 percent over the past five years, according to the most recent data. The school was ranked No. 44 for graduate education schools last year.

The GW School of Business’ online MBA program also shot up, jumping 20 spots to No. 44. Its non-MBA online programs were ranked No. 22.

The school’s online rankings dropped last year after former dean Doug Guthrie was fired for the school overspending by about $13 million, much of which went toward online programs. The school added four new online programs in 2012.

Paul Schiff Berman, vice provost for online learning and academic innovation, has led online learning at GW for the last two years. Hatchet File Photo

Paul Schiff Berman, vice provost for online learning and academic innovation, has led online learning at GW for the last two years. Hatchet File Photo

The programs are evaluated based on selectivity, reputation among peer schools and services provided to students.

GW’s School of Nursing, which came in at No. 4 last year, fell to No. 9, tying with Duquesne and Graceland universities and the University of Texas–Tyler.

The nursing school has kept its enrollment steady, since most of its graduate programs are offered online.

The University’s online bachelor’s programs, most of which are housed in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, jumped to No. 20, a large increase from last year’s ranking at No. 56.

Last year, GW introduced an in-house shop to make it easier for faculty to create online courses and degree programs. The University could launch at least six new online degree programs this year.

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Nearly 33 percent of accepted students submitted deposits to join the Class of 2017, a number about on par with recent years but likely to produce a smaller freshman class than the University targeted.

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman reported that 2,403 students submitted the $800 enrollment deposit, as of May 5. Typically, about 4 percent of those students do not end up enrolling, which would put the University slightly below its target freshman class size of 2,350.

Last year, 35 percent of accepted students submitted enrollment deposits, but 2 percentage points fewer actually enrolled. Fewer deposits typically means less net tuition revenue for the University.

“These numbers will continue to bounce around a little over the next month,” Maltzman, who oversaw the admissions office this year, said. “Students are continuing to deposit, switch schools and in some instances withdraw deposits as they get in off waitlists at other institutions.”

The number of deposits also indicates that the University likely will not have significant trouble staying below the city-imposed enrollment cap this fall, an issue that administrators have had to face previously. In 2011, full-time students came in just 159 students under the city’s enrollment cap.

 The University reported last month that it accepted about one-third of its nearly 22,000 applicants, a number that has stood still for three years.

The percentage of students who choose to enroll at GW – an indicator of how popular the University among its admissions pool – is typically beaten out by peer schools like New York University and Georgetown University, which boasted yield rates of  36 percent and 46 percent, respectively, last year.

GW usually bests schools like American University and Boston University, each of which had only about one-fifth of their accepted students enroll last year.

Administrators have said that the steady admissions numbers this year are evidence that GW did not suffer from the U.S. News & World Report unranking last fall. The fall off the top colleges ranking came after the University admitted to inflating freshman admissions data for more than a decade.

This post was updated May 8, 2013 to reflect the following:

Correction appended

Due to an editing error, The Hatchet reported that American and Boston universities saw one-fifth percent of their accepted students enroll last year. They saw one-fifth enroll. We regret this error.

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Bucknell University was the fifth college in a year to admit that it had misreported admissions data. It was not pulled off the U.S. News & World Report rankings.  Photo used under the Creative Commons license.

About two weeks after Bucknell University admitted to skewing test score data, U.S. News & World Report announced that the school would maintain its No. 32 spot on its top liberal arts colleges list.

Bucknell inflated average SAT and ACT scores by omitting several dozen students’ scores, which boosted the overall SAT mean as much as 25 points on the 1600-point scale over seven years.

The publication recalculated Bucknell’s ranking using corrected data and found that the difference “wasn’t significant enough to affect the school’s numerical rank,” Director of Data Research Robert Morse wrote in a blog post Monday.

Bucknell President John Bravman said last month, after disclosing the misreported data, that he believed the college would maintain its ranking. Admissions test scores account for 7.5 percent of the publication’s rankings methodology.

GW was kicked off the best colleges rankings in November after the University announced that it had misreported freshmen class rank data for over a decade.  Tulane University’s business school was also booted from a U.S. News & World ranking in January, while Emory University and Claremont McKenna College maintained their ranks after admitting to data inflation earlier in 2012.

The string of colleges to admit misreporting has renewed scrutiny over college rankings and how those figures are reported, many experts say.

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Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business lost its No. 43 spot in the U.S. News & World Report MBA program rankings. The school announced in December that an employee had falsified admissions data. Photo used under the Creative Commons license.

Tulane University’s business school was kicked off a coveted U.S. News & World Report ranking Thursday, about a month after the school announced it had inflated admissions data.

The Freeman School of Business is the second school to be removed from one of the publication’s rankings in the last three months for skewing statistics. GW was booted from the best colleges rankings in November after the University disclosed that its freshmen class rank data had been wrong for at least a decade.

Tulane’s business school, which had been ranked No. 43, vastly underreported its acceptance rate for the last four years. In fall 2011, the school said it admitted 57 percent, but an outside audit revealed the correct figure was 93 percent.

Over the same period, the school also misreported scores for the GMAT, the admissions test for MBA programs. Its average GMAT score for 2011 was actually 631, instead of the 670 it had reported to U.S. News. (GW’s No. 57 business school has an average GMAT score of 637.) A school’s GMAT score is weighted about 16 percent, while its acceptance rate counts for just over 1 percent under the U.S. News methodology.

The magazine’s Director of Data Research Robert Morse wrote in a blog post Thursday that the school was removed because its correct data would have changed the school’s ranking. Earlier in 2012, Emory University and Claremont McKenna College admitted to manipulating admissions data, but maintained their slots because the new data would not have altered the schools’ positions.

Tulane came clean on the data misreporting in December, admitting that an employee intentionally skewed admissions data to boost the school’s ranking. Dean Ira Solomon said the employee responsible is no longer at the school.

The school also told U.S. News that it would release a public report from an outside auditing firm this month. GW officials have declined to release a report from its auditing firm, saying the report was only given to administrators orally.

GW officials have maintained that its inaccurate data, which stemmed from a faulty formula used to calculate the number of high school seniors who graduated in the top 10 percent of their classes, was done without malice.

The business school will be reconsidered for the ranking this spring, when U.S. News & World publishes its 2014 edition of graduate school rankings, Morse wrote.

– Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.

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Left to right: Senior Associate Provost and Dean of Students Peter Konwerski, Senior Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman, Provost Steven Lerman, Vice President for External Relations Lorraine Voles and University President Steven Knapp address students at a forum Monday. Jordan Capizola | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Chris Hebdon.

The University does not have a formal report of the audit that it hired a firm to conduct on admissions data, University President Steven Knapp said 11 days after GW announced it had been inflating statistics.

Knapp said GW only received an oral report from the audit firm Baker Tilly, which examined one year of admissions data. He and four top administrators fielded questions at a town hall on the misreporting incident – an error he said the school is “embarrassed by” – and GW being kicked off U.S. News & World Report’s top colleges rankings.

The question-and-answer session with an about 50-student audience served as the first public address on the incident since GW disclosed it was misreporting freshman admissions statistics Nov. 8.

“We looked at this data and we looked at the rest of the data and we found that, as had been reported, there was indeed an error in the class ranking data,” Knapp said.

When Claremont McKenna College admitted to data misreporting earlier this year, it released an audit report.

Senior Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman – who has been the primary spokesman on the admissions data errors – also attended the event. Provost Steven Lerman and Senior Associate Provost and Dean of Students Peter Konwerski also joined the panel.

Lorraine Voles, the head of GW’s Office of External Relations, which has controlled the narrative throughout the public relations fiasco, also handled about half the questions posed to the administrators Monday night.

Voles immediately responded to a question as to why Associate Vice President and Dean of Admissions Kathryn Napper, who has overseen the admissions department for more than 15 years and has yet to publicly comment on GW’s misreported data aside from declining and referring to external relations, was absent from the forum.

“So I suppose that’s mine,” Voles said. “Do you want that in 140 characters? The Office of External Relations is dealing with press inquires on this issue, as they deal with press inquires on all issues facing the University.”

She also said Maltzman, who oversees admissions, had been “dealing with the media both at the University and outside the University.”

Student Association Executive Vice President Abby Bergren was asked to send questions to Knapp before the event, giving him time to prepare his responses.

Some questions centered around the origin of the data error, to which Lerman said “Those who are responsible for reporting the data are no longer generating the data.”

The vague response is one administrators have echoed in recent days – including Knapp, who said Wednesday that “people are being held accountable” for the inaccuracies but has repeatedly declined to say what personnel decisions have been made.

Administrators also stressed their plans to prevent miscalculations in the future, like periodic audits of admissions data and the hire of a new enrollment manager who will oversee admissions and financial aid.

After about an hour, the administrators left the event, citing commitments made before the sudden scheduling of what the Student Association called an emergency forum.

After the forum, Bergren was optimistic that this event would help put this issue to bed.

“Hopefully the students got something new and this provided perspective,” Bergren said.

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The University’s fundraising head emailed alumni Friday to calm concerns about GW being booted off the U.S. News & World Report ranking this week.

Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations Mike Morsberger sent the message in the aftermath of the Wednesday unranking that “disturbed and confused” many in our community, he wrote.

“Rankings do not define GW – the quality and passion of our students and alumni, faculty and staff are the best measurement of our success,” the email read.

GW has sometimes used the U.S. News ranking to encourage alumni to donate. In June, the development office sent an email to alumni, pointing out that their donations account for 5 percent of the U.S. News rankings methodology.

“Your gift last year also made sure I graduated from a top 50 school,” according to the email, which was written by an alumna from the Class of 2012. “Five percent makes a big difference in how our university is viewed all over the world. It means the diplomas my classmates and I received upon graduation will have a bigger impact as we look for jobs.”

University President Steven Knapp said Wednesday that he did not think the unranking would hurt alumni giving.


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Friday, Nov. 16, 2012 11:32 a.m.

U.S. News rankings chief explains unlisting

GW was shifted to unranked because of U.S. News & World Report’s policy to not redo the list if a school’s recalculated spot would be lower, the magazine’s rankings chief clarified Friday.

Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News, wrote on his blog that GW was removed from the list – while other universities who misreported data this year remained – after a statistical simulation showed GW would have dropped.

Misreported data at Emory University and Claremont McKenna College this year was not altered enough to change the schools’ rankings, Morse wrote. Officials at those schools said their data inflation was intentional, while GW administrators have held that their error was inadvertent.

“It is U.S. News’s policy not to re-rank when a college or university erroneously reports statistical data that causes a school’s ranking to be either higher or lower than its originally published rank—whether or not the misreporting was intentional,” Morse wrote.

The policy is in place so the magazine doesn’t bump down other schools as a result, ensuring “stability in the published rankings,” he wrote.

GW admitted Nov. 8 to inflating the percentage of freshmen in the top 10 percent of their high school class by 20 percentage points. That statistic is weighed as 6 percent of U.S. News’ ranking methodology.

Morse had not mentioned the U.S. News policy Nov. 8 or Wednesday after announcing GW would be unranked, leaving many, including University President Steven Knapp, to question the move.

Morse wrote the move also was not unprecedented. Iona College in New York was moved to unranked last year after manipulating rankings data.

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Student Association Senator Hugo Scheckter, U-at-Large, has called on top University officials to meet with students after U.S. News & World Report knocked GW off its national rankings. File Photo by Sam Klein | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Correction appended

Student Association senators are calling for top administrators to meet with students in an emergency forum and explain what steps GW will take after being kicked off U.S. News and World Report’s top colleges rankings.

Executive Vice President Abby Bergren announced the Senate will hold an emergency meeting Monday. Sen. Hugo Scheckter, U-At-Large, called for the meeting to gather top officials, including University President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman.

Scheckter said the administration has not been transparent and the SA should hold the administration accountable.

“The University should be as open and clear as possible. It not only affects us, it affects future alums and future students. We’re trying to open up the canals of communication,” Scheckter said. “We pay a lot of money to come here and now we’re equally ranked with the University of Phoenix. It’s just not acceptable. It’s embarrassing for everyone who’s here.”

Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee Ryan Counihan said he was blown away after hearing that GW was booted off the rankings.

“It just raises a lot of question about the values of our degrees,” Counihan said. “We were admitted to GW based on the fact that it was a top 50 or close to it school.”

This post was updated Nov. 14, 2012 to reflect the following:

Due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly spelled Hugo Scheckter’s name twice in this blog. We regret this error.

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