SAT Scandal: Claremont McKenna College Releases External Report

On Tuesday, April 17th, the Claremont McKenna College Public Affairs Office released the following statement:

Claremont, Calif., April 17, 2012 –– Claremont McKenna College publicly released today an external investigative report related to its January 2012 disclosure that a former senior administrator had inaccurately reported the College’s SAT statistics.

The investigation, which the Board of Trustees authorized and the law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP conducted, confirmed that CMC’s former Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid was solely responsible for misreporting admission statistics, and that no one else participated in, encouraged, or had knowledge of the misconduct. The investigation also verified that no individual student’s scores or admission files were altered in the course of the misreporting.

The report confirmed that the corrected SAT statistics the College first reported to outside organizations in late January were accurate. The investigation also found that the former Vice President was solely responsible for misreporting other admission statistics, including ACT, class rank (the percentage of entering students who were in the top 10% of their high school class), and application statistics. The degree of inaccuracy and the circumstances related to the misreporting varied. For example, the inaccurate ACT numbers were sometimes lower than the accurate numbers, but were usually higher. The widest differences in percentages between reported and accurate figures were in the class rank statistics.

The full report, which includes a complete summary of the inaccurate and corrected admission statistics, is available on the College’s website.

“We regret and are deeply disappointed by this episode,” said Harry McMahon, Chair of the Board of Trustees, in a message to members of the CMC community. “Throughout its history, the College has been defined by its core values of honesty and responsible leadership. While these events do not reflect our values, our response does. Our President and her staff have addressed this matter promptly, thoroughly and with complete integrity. We are confident that the process changes the President has proposed, and we have approved, will deter and prevent such actions from occurring again.”

“These events have been justifiably disappointing to members of our community and to the outside organizations to which we report our institutional statistics,” said President Pamela Gann. “I am very sorry and saddened that these events occurred, and I am committed to ensuring the College’s continuing response exemplifies our core values.”

Based on the report’s findings, the President announced a series of actions that the College is taking, including promptly providing corrected admission statistics to outside organizations who received inaccurate information. In addition, the College is developing documented institutional guidelines --including segregation of duties and independent review procedures -- that will regulate the compiling and reporting of all material institutional statistics and will be made available to the public.

The report marks the completion of a process that began in January 2012, when President Gann received information from within the College about potential discrepancies in the SAT statistics for the fall 2011 entering class. Based on this initial information, the President initiated an internal investigation, during which the former Vice President admitted that he had been solely responsible for falsely reporting SAT statistics. The administrator subsequently resigned on January 29. The Board of Trustees engaged O’Melveny & Myers to conduct an external investigation of the College’s admission-related statistics reporting processes.

The scope of the investigation covered SAT and other key admission-related statistics reported to outside organizations, including ACT, class rank, application, acceptance, and enrollment statistics. The investigation looked back to 2004, the year prior to which the former Vice President admitted to falsifying SAT statistics. The external investigation team conducted over 20 interviews, including the President, the former Vice President and other key members of the College’s senior administration. The investigative team also reviewed approximately 100,000 pages of documents and the complete admission files of every student admitted in the fall 2011 class.

The investigative report describes how a lack of internal verification procedures, the Vice President’s “long time and trusted” role as a senior executive, and his own efforts at concealment allowed him to avoid detection for a number of years. The investigation found no information indicating that anyone in the College’s leadership directed or encouraged the misreporting, or that anyone was aware of this activity or knew that erroneous admission-related statistics had been reported by the College.

“Claremont McKenna College remains an outstanding institution that is distinguished by its unique mission and the excellence of its students, faculty, alumni, and staff,” said Board Chair McMahon. “We have learned a great deal from this unfortunate matter and will become ever stronger as a result.”

Claremont McKenna College (CMC) is an independent, coeducational liberal arts college with a curricular emphasis on economics, government, and public affairs.  Established in 1946, CMC is a member of The Claremont Colleges, a consortium of seven independent institutions in Claremont, California.

The Forum will continue coverage as new details become available.