UI Law School Investigation Complete

November 07, 2011

The University of Illinois' investigation of inflated test scores at the School of Law has determined that one person was responsible for inflated grades and entrace exam scores being posted online.

Former college assistant dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Paul Pless was placed on administrative leave on Sept. 7, and resigned from the U of I last Friday. The investigation determined that the College reported and/or publicly disseminated inaccurate LSAT and GPA statistics with respect to the class of 2008 and the classes of 2010 through 2014.

Urbana campus Chief Legal Counsel Scott Rice said the law school lacked adequate control to prevent, deter, and prevent such actions. With the help of data analysis firm Duff & Phelps, the U of I included a set of eight recommendations to prevent such incidents from happening again.

"We did find that there was too much concentration of authority in one individual," said attorney Theodore Chung, who led the investigation.

Chung said in trying to explain what happened, Pless claimed he never knowingly did anything wrong. He says the former dean had a solid reputation, and that may have been one reason the inaccurate data took a while to be discovered:

"Frankly, it was very striking to the investigative team how well he was regarded and how universally well he was regarded," said Chung. "To my mind, that is one of the explanations why the issues weren't detected earlier. He didn't do anything in his own professional or personal life that raised a red flag."

Meanwhile, Chung said the law school has encouraged College of Law Dean Bruce Smith to correct all erroneous data, conduct a comprehensive review of control procedures, and implement "best practices" for staffing and operations in the admissions office.

Smith issued a formal apology to the legal-academic community, the U of I, alumni, and students. "This investigation has concluded that a single individual - no longer employed by the college - was responsible for these inaccuracies," he said. "The college takes seriously the issue of data integrity and intends to implement the report's recommendations promptly and comprehensively.

Story source: WILL