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Emory announces findings in data review

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Nancy Seideman

Emory University today released the results of a three-month investigation into how admissions-related data were misreported to various external audiences, including standard reference sources and third parties who rank colleges and universities. 

In May, 2012, Emory’s new assistant vice provost for undergraduate enrollment and dean of admissions, John Latting, discovered discrepancies in some data that had been previously submitted to these organizations, and brought them to the attention of Provost Earl Lewis. Emory conducted an internal investigation of the discrepancies, engaging the Jones Day law firm to ensure objectivity and independence.

Upon learning of the results of the investigation, Emory President James Wagner stated, “As an institution that challenges itself, in the words of our vision statement, to be ‘ethically engaged,’ Emory has not been well served by representatives of the university in this history of  misreporting. I am deeply disappointed.”

The investigation focused on three key areas: whether incorrect data were submitted; if incorrect data were submitted, who was responsible; and if incorrect data were submitted, how and why did that practice begin.  The central findings of the investigation were that there had been intentional misreporting over more than a decade, and that leadership in the Office of Admission and Institutional Research was aware of and participated in the misreporting.  The investigation was not able to determine how the practice began.

The investigation revealed that both the University’s Office of Admission serving Emory College, and the University’s Office of Institutional Research, annually reported admitted students’ SAT/ACT scores to external surveys as enrolled student scores, since at least the year 2000. This had the effect of overstating Emory’s reported test scores. The report found that class rankings were also overstated, although the methodology used to produce the data was not clear.

The investigation also found that two former deans of admission and the leadership of the Office of Institutional Research were aware of the misreporting. The employees responsible for this conduct are no longer employed at Emory.  Further, a corrective action plan is being implemented to ensure the future integrity of Emory’s data reporting. Additional information regarding the data review can be found at

In addition to correcting data for the most recent academic year, the Office of the Provost announced several changes to the way in which Emory will manage future data collection and reporting activities.  Based on the findings of the investigation, Provost Lewis outlined the following corrective actions:

  • Emory will implement new internal controls, ensuring there is a system of checks and balances regarding data and the manner of interpreting and reporting it.
  • Emory will dedicate staff to manage the system of checks and balances for future reporting, including a data analyst in the Office of Admission to ensure technical accuracy in the analysis of large data sets. Within the Office of the Provost, an assistant vice provost for academic planning was appointed in June. This position is providing oversight and review of all procedures and policies associated with collection and reporting of institutional data.
  • Finally, Emory staff in admissions and enrollment management are being strongly reminded and encouraged to bring issues of concern to the attention of their respective managers, the provost, or the Emory Trust Line (1-888-550-8850). Additional meetings will be held with staff members who were involved in data collection in the past to ensure they understand Emory’s approved processes going forward. In addition, the entire University community will be encouraged anew to bring issues of concern to their supervisors or to the Trust Line if they do not get satisfactory resolution.

“I am grateful to Dean Latting for calling this matter to our attention,” said President Wagner. “Emory is a great institution, with great faculty, staff, and students, and a strong alumni network. None of that changes with this news. I assure you that I and my colleagues on the cabinet are doing all that we can to see that nothing like this happens again, and that Emory lives up to its standards of excellence and integrity.”

Additional Information

Letter From President James W. Wagner

Corrective Action Plan for Data Collection and Reporting

Questions and Answers About Data Reporting

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