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Columbia University acknowledges giving incorrect data for U.S. News rankings

Columbia University admits to providing inaccurate information to the Common Data Sets, but fails to disclose how inaccurate the information disclosed was.

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Early July, Columbia University lost its U.S. News ranking after it couldn’t verify submitted data. The institution has finally acknowledged giving incorrect data for U.S. News rankings. 

On Friday, Columbia University provost Mary Boyce announced the information disclosed for U.S. News rankings was incorrect and in part was contributed by “outdated and/or incorrect methodologies.” 

The University was ranked second in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, but was soon faced scrutiny by a math professor at Columbia University, Michael Thaddeus, who publicly questioned the accuracy of the information disclosed. 

This prompted the professor to conduct his own investigation on the data submitted by Columbia University, prompting U.S. News to unranked the Ivy League School. 

As a result, Columbia’s provost, Mary Boyce, said in the statement “We deeply regret the deficiencies in our prior reporting and are committed to doing better,” at the time. 

However, the statement released acknowledges something went wrong and some detail about the errors, but lacked to clarify the actual information that was misleading and falsely submitted. Although the statement states the university over-reported the number of undergraduate classes and the number of full-time faculty with terminal degrees, it failed to acknowledge the actual how much it over-reported those figures. 

Columbia confirmed that the share of full-time faculty with terminal degrees was 95.4%, something Michael Thaddeus, the faculty whistleblower, reported Columbia claimed to be 100%. 

An interesting component in the statement disclosed by Columbia University states that “while we will continue to refine and review our methodologies, it is clear that so many aspects of a Columbia education cannot be measured by common denominator-style metrics. Columbia’s stature stems from its history and the faculty, students, education, research, and medical care that define the University.” It further justifies its lack of transparency by saying “Columbia’s 100-year-old-plus Core Curriculum of philosophy, history, politics, literature, art, music, science and writing provides undergraduate students with a transformational understanding of modern societies. The Core is defined by its rigorous curriculum of small discussion-based classes, which all undergraduates are required to take.” 

But does that justify the lack of data accuracy the University was quick to disclose to the Common Data Sets? 

To read the full statement click here

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