Updated Below. Updated again 1/31 at 3:02pm This morning, Claremont McKenna College President Pamela Gann reported to the CMC community that since 2005, the Office of Admission has inflated the stats of test scores for incoming classes. A senior administrator in the Office admitted to moving the scores up by an average of 10 to 20 points each year.
The following is the full email from President Gann:
Members of the Claremont McKenna College Community,
I am writing to inform you about an important matter related to the accuracy of the Office of Admission’s reporting of admission data.
Earlier this month, I received information from within the College that the Office of Admission had reported inaccurate SAT statistics for the fall 2011 entering class. Upon receiving this information, I asked Jerome Garris, Vice President and Dean Emeritus, to conduct a review of this issue in coordination with the Office of Institutional Research. During Dean Garris’ review of this matter, a senior administrator in the Office of Admission disclosed that he had been solely responsible for falsely reporting SAT statistics since 2005.
Although the degree of inaccuracies varied over time, we understand that the reported critical reading and/or math SAT scores were generally inflated by an average of 10-20 points each. For the fall 2010 class, which is the most recent year that has been reported generally to the public, the individual reported a combined median of 1,410 when the actual should have been 1,400, and reported a 75th percentile score of 1,510 when the actual should have been 1,480. It is also important to note that, while overall statistics were manipulated, we do not have reason to believe any student’s individual score was altered.
As an institution of higher education with a deep and consistent commitment to the integrity of all our academic activities, and particularly our reporting of institutional data, we take this situation very seriously. I have therefore initiated a series of actions to respond to this matter. First, the individual has taken full responsibility and has resigned his position from the College effective immediately. At this time, we have no reason to believe that other individuals were involved. If we learn otherwise, we will take prompt and appropriate action.
Second, we have engaged outside legal counsel from O’Melveny & Myers to complete an independent review of our admission-related data processes. In addition, we are contacting and cooperating with external groups that may have received erroneous information to provide corrected data. Finally, we are reviewing our internal data gathering and reporting processes and will strengthen them to ensure that this type of conduct will not occur in the future.
While I am sorry to report this to you, I remain deeply committed to ensuring that Claremont McKenna will respond to this matter in a manner that is accurate, honest, and that will reflect the longstanding integrity of our great college.
Pamela B. Gann, President
Just last week, the CMC Forum reported glowingly on record applications to the College. At a competitive and selective liberal arts college such as CMC, the pressure to improve statistics is enormous. But no student should need to cheat on a test to get into a better college, and no college should need to alter its stats just to jump into the top ten in the U.S. News and World Report rankings.
CMC needs to reconsider its priorities and stop feeling a need to fudge the numbers (19 person classes also fall into this) just to make itself look better to the outside world. It doesn’t matter what we look like on paper. Just like a student is not fairly represented by his or her score on a test, a college is not fairly evaluated by rankings algorithms.
Claremont McKenna College is an incredible school in an amazing academic community. Anybody who attends one of the Claremont Colleges can attest to that. If we happen to come out on top in some meaningless list of computer rankings, so be it; but let’s do it with integrity next time.
Update 3:30pm, 1/30/12:
Richard Vos, who was Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Claremont McKenna College, has resigned, the Port Side can confirm from multiple sources.
Vos is no longer listed as a member of the Admissions staff, though his name and biography are still visible in this Google cache. Vos’s name was also removed from the list of the college’s senior staff.
A headline on CMC’s website boasting, “CMC Ranked 9th Best Liberal Arts College” was removed Monday.
According to the now-removed bio, Vos began as Dean of Admissions at CMC in 1987.
Max Benavidez was unable to confirm that Vos no longer works at CMC, citing California privacy law. Benavidez is CMC’s Associate Vice President for Public Affairs, Communications and Marketing.
Vos discussed the role of college rankings in caps on class sizes in a February 2008 interview with the Port Side‘s Andrew Bluebond CMC ’11. “I put pressure on myself to drive up the rankings because it is in my office’s best interest,” Vos said.
In April 2010, the CMC Forum quoted Vos as saying “The range is more important than the average” for SATs. The Forum noted in the same article, “Dean Vos left out specifics when we inquired about the class’ [sic] SAT range, a data point that supposedly drives the US News & World Report College Rankings.”
Assistant Dean of Students Eric Vos, who is Richard Vos’s son, was not involved in the admissions issue and still works at CMC.
Update: 10:30pm, 1/30/12:
According to ASCMC Vice President Aditya Pai CMC ’13, Max Benevidez, Associate VP for Public Affairs, will visit next Monday’s Senate Meeting “to discuss the incident and the College’s response, and listen to the questions/concerns of students.”
The CMC SAT Scandal is garnering national news coverage. The New York Times and Los Angeles Times were the first to report on the scandal. Within the last hour, major news outlets such as CNN, Fox News, and the Wall Street Journal have also picked up the story.
Update 9:00am 1/31/12:
Television news vans were spotted on the Claremont McKenna campus near 6th Street and Mills. The story is receiving coverage on both local and national news stations.
Update 3:02pm 1/31/12:
According to a schoolwide announcement by President Pam Gann, Georgette DeVeres has been named interim head of Admissions and Financial Aid, taking over Richard Vos’s duties.
Dear CMC Community,
I am pleased to announce that effective today Georgette DeVeres, Associate Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid, will become the interim head of the College’s Admission and Financial Aid Office. She has worked at Claremont McKenna College since 1983, and is a member of my senior staff. Georgette is well-respected and nationally known within the admission and financial aid professions. She served nine years as a Trustee of the College Board, and served two years as the chairperson of its Board of Trustees. Georgette received a Distinguished Leadership Award from the Western Region of the College Board. Presently, she serves on the Reauthorization Task Force of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. Georgette is an honorary member of the CMC Alumni Association, in recognition of her many years of service to the College. I look forward to continuing our work together.
Pamela B. Gann, President
Look to the Port Side for continuing coverage of the SAT Scandal.