Claremont McKenna College’s former Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid engaged in false reporting practices that went beyond inflating SAT numbers, misrepresenting statistics on ACT scores, class ranking and application numbers, according to a report published Tuesday by O’Melveny & Meyers LLP.
Richard Vos, the former top-ranking admission officer, resigned from Claremont McKenna (CMC) in January after the college’s reported SAT statistics were discovered to be higher than the real numbers. O’Melveny & Meyers, a law firm hired by CMC to investigate the school’s reporting practices, concluded in its report that Vos was solely responsible for all misreporting of admission statistics.
“The VP was a longtime and trusted executive who closely controlled and exercised ultimate authority over the reporting of admission statistics at the College,” the report states. “The absence of a process to independently verify the reports the VP generated reinforced his control over the admission statistics reporting function.”
The report found that admission staff at CMC had “a disincentive” to check Vos’s calculations before sending them to outside organizations because most of the officers are not proficient with the software that CMC uses to store admission data.
The report also found that Vos began reporting false SAT scores at least as early as 2004. Vos said in January that he started falsifying SAT scores in 2005. O’Melveny & Meyers did not investigate the accuracy of test scores reported before 2004.
In an e-mail to the CMC community Tuesday, President Pamela Gann wrote that the oversight of admission, financial aid and student affairs will be consolidated into the job of one vice president. Jefferson Huang, the current Vice President for Student Affairs at CMC, will take on the new position.
Gann also wrote that CMC is developing policies to prevent future misreporting of data.
Associate Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications Max Benavidez said that the new policies will involve more consistent oversight.
“If office X is generating data, we’ll have office Y checking out that data,” he said. “There will be a cross-check and it will be independently verified. In this case there was one individual who had sole control and ultimate authority. That will never happen again for any kind of data at CMC.”
The report, which was made available on CMC’s website, found that the most significantly inflated statistics were related to the high school class rankings of students enrolling at CMC. In 2011, for example, CMC reported that 85 percent of entering students whose applications included their ranks had graduated in the top tenth of their classes. O’Melveny & Meyers calculated that the correct statistic was 71 percent.
According to the report, Vos “developed his own method of performing this calculation.” The report quotes Vos as saying that calculating class rank data is an “art, not a science.”
The report also states that Vos gave “unclear and internally inconsistent” explanations for the inaccuracies in CMC’s reported ACT statistics.
“The VP also explained that he believed reporting ACT statistics was unimportant and that he devoted little time and attention to this task,” the report states.
According to the report, Vos recalled feeling pressured to improve CMC’s admission statistics, but this pressure was not due to any inappropriate action on Gann’s part. The report found no evidence of “verbal abuse, economic pressure or any other form of intimidation that might reasonably be considered coercive or improper.”
“The VP’s statements that he enjoyed his job, despite the pressure, and felt secure in his position also reflect the absence of undue pressure,” the report states. “Even when the VP admitted to falsifying SAT statistics, he said he did not believe he would lose his job.”
Robert Franek, a senior vice president at The Princeton Review, said that the new revelations about false reporting at CMC probably will not hurt the college’s Princeton ranking.
“We’ve been watching things very closely,” Franek said. “I’m not seeing it as an endemic problem, as much as it is unfortunate, mostly for the students at Claremont McKenna and the students who might be interested in Claremont McKenna. We’re going to continue to write about the superlative education and campus culture that you have not only at Claremont McKenna but at the five-college consortium.”
Maya Booth and Natalie Orenstein contributed reporting.