Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Update on my Gonzaga piece on law schools, lying, and Enron.

After I published this piece, Robert K. Vischer, the dean of the University of St. Thomas Law School (Minnesota), gently suggested that I might want to clarify St. Thomas's restatement of its employment data: 
[Y]ou refer to St. Thomas Law School as having done “the right thing and ‘fessed up when it discovered that it had been misrepresenting its placement data.”  This is an important paper on an important topic, and I’m glad you’re tackling it head on.  I fear, though, that this line may lead readers to lump St. Thomas in with other law schools that have shown a pattern of deliberate misrepresentation.  Our oversight was a one-time occurrence that resulted from an erroneous entry of data.

Specifically, on line 169 of our Class of 2010 U.S. News Employment data report, the number of graduates known to be employed at graduation was correctly listed as 51 graduates (or 32.9% of our 155 total number of 2010 graduates). Unfortunately, on line 164 of the report, we incorrectly listed 125 graduates (or 80.6%) as employed at graduation.  U.S. News listed that incorrect number in its law school rankings.  We immediately contacted U.S. News to alert them to the error. The nine month graduation rate of 86.5% was correct in the rankings.

We did make a one-time mistake, and we paid the price by being unranked for a year.  I’m hoping to avoid leaving the impression that we are another example of law schools trying to fudge the truth over a period of years.
I'm happy to help Dean Vischer clarify his school's role.  There's a huge difference between making a mistake and engaging in a pattern of deception.

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