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The University of Illinois has launched an investigation into the accuracy of information about the median grade point average and LSAT scores disseminated by the College of Law about its incoming class. According to a statement released by the university on Sept. 11, ethics officials on Aug. 26 received “credible information” that the law school might have reported inaccurate data regarding the class of 2014 on its Web site and in promotional materials. If the information proves true, Illinois would be the second law school this year to be caught falsifying the credentials of its incoming students. Villanova University School of Law reported to the American Bar Association in February that admissions officials had reported inflated student LSAT scores and GPAs for a number of years. Villanova was sanctioned by the ABA in August, and must display notice of the censure on its Web site for the next two years. The data in question at the University of Illinois have been removed from the law school’s Web site and an assistant dean has been placed on administrative leave, the university said. “This matter is being taken very seriously by the highest levels of the university, the campus, and the college of law, and a thorough inquiry into the facts has been initiated,” the university said. “The university ethics office and the office of the university counsel are leading the review and have engaged the assistance of outside legal counsel familiar with the university and its data-reporting requirements and processes.” The university has retained Jones Day attorney Theodore Chung and advisory firm Duff & Phelps to assist in the investigation. University spokesman Tom Hardy did not immediately return calls for comment. “The continued integrity of the college of law is a top priority,” the university said. “The University of Illinois Board of Trustees has directed the administration to complete a thorough and swift investigation that uncovers the source of the concern and enhances and protects the data collection and reporting system to ensure that past, current, and future data are accurate, complete and verifiable” The accuracy of the figures law schools provide concerning both the academic credentials of incoming students and the employment rates of their graduates have been a hot topic in recent years, with critics claiming that schools misrepresent numbers in order to lure students and boost their rankings on the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings. The LSAT scores and GPAs of a law school’s incoming class account for nearly 25% the annual ranking; job placement rates account for 20%. Law school deans and admissions officers have faced tough admissions decision during the 2011-12 admissions cycle due to a decline the overall number of applicants. According to the Law School Admissions Council, law school applications were down by 10%. Some law schools opted to reduce the size of their new classes to maintain their median GPAs and LSAT scores in order to prevent a drop in their U.S. News ranking. Contact Karen Sloan at [email protected].

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