News

Mar 26

An Open Letter to Bob Morse from Dean Mengler

Published on: Monday, March 26, 2012

March 26, 2012

AN OPEN LETTER TO BOB MORSE

Dear Mr. Morse:

I should now be a strong believer in the adage no good deed goes unpunished. We learned last Friday through your blog post that your publication placed the University of St. Thomas School of Law in the “unranked” category after it immediately self-reported that two submitted data points related to “at graduation employment” were conflicting – one accurate, one inaccurate. We have some questions about your decision to automatically “unrank” a school. I write to you today to do two things: first, to make two inquiries about your decision, and second, to express my concerns about the impact of your decision on schools’ incentives to correct errors promptly.

As you now know, the form you rely on for calculating rankings asks for “at graduation employment” in two places – on lines 164 and 169. As you also know from our self-reporting, in response to one question we reported correct data (line 169), but in response to the other question we inadvertently reported incorrect data (line 164). Ironically, we were not even required to answer the question that produced an error, but we did so in an effort to be as transparent as possible. Other schools that elected not to answer the question were imputed a percentage.

First, I would like to inquire about your methodology. What we do not know is whether you relied entirely on the incorrect data in your initial ranking of our law school. Did you consider line 169 – the correct “at graduation” employment percentage in your initial ranking of our law school? Did anyone at U.S. News discuss – or notice - the fact that the two data points are in conflict?

Second, is the decision to place a law school in the unranked category following a self-reported inadvertent error pertaining to conflicting data a new policy for U.S. News? Historically, and as recently as last fall, when other schools were discovered to have lied – not just, as in our case, to have made a mistake – you decided not to “change [your] long-standing policy of not revising previously published rankings.” In those cases, you were hopeful that a “public outcry” would serve as a deterrent. Is your decision to “unrank” a change in policy?

If the decision to “unrank” is indeed a change in protocol, this leads to the policy concern I would like to highlight – the fact that your decision will create a disincentive for law schools to promptly report mistaken or erroneous data. When other law schools lied, you called on all law schools to protect the integrity of the data and ultimately the reporting. We did that even for an unintentional mistake. And while we are willing to live with the unfortunate consequences, I fear your decision will serve as a disincentive for others to self-report errors.

We remain very sorry that we mistakenly submitted an inaccurate number in one of the two places for reporting the data. We will continue to strive to be as transparent as possible in providing consumer information. Our mission calls us to focus on professional formation of our students and graduates with an emphasis on integrity and accountability. There was no question in our minds that we had to correct the mistake immediately, and we will live with the consequences of the mistake. However, we also hope that we can continue to dialogue with you about these important issues and how we can work together to create a better system.

 

Warm regards.

Sincerely,

Thomas M. Mengler

Dean and Ryan Chair in Law

Original story posted on this site on March 13, 2012

It has come to our attention that U.S. News published an inaccurate employment at graduation statistic for the UST Class of 2010.  On line 169 of our Class of 2010 U.S. News Employment data report, the number of graduates known to be employed at graduation is correctly listed as 51 graduates (or 32.9% of our 155 total number of 2010 graduates). Unfortunately, on line 164 of the report, we incorrectly listed 125 graduates (or 80.6%) as employed at graduation.  U.S. News listed that incorrect number in its law school rankings, released earlier today. We have contacted U.S. News to alert them to the error. The nine month graduation rate of 86.5% is correct in the rankings.

We are deeply sorry that we failed to catch this discrepancy in our reported data. We take data accuracy very seriously. In addition to working to fulfill our reporting obligations in a timely and accurate manner, we also provide comprehensive employment data on our website. You can review that data here. If you have any questions about our employment data, please feel free to contact Kendra Brodin, our Director of Career and Professional Development, at (651) 962-4865.

Update posted on this site on March 23, 2012

In light of our self-reported error in the rate of employment at graduation for the class of 2010, U.S. News has decided not to calculate a numerical ranking for the University of St. Thomas School of Law this year. We understand the difficulties involved in recalculating the rankings at this stage. As we reported after reviewing an advance copy of the rankings, on line 169 of our Class of 2010 U.S. News Employment data report, the number of graduates known to be employed at graduation was correctly listed as 51 graduates (or 32.9% of our 155 total number of 2010 graduates). Unfortunately, on line 164 of the report, we incorrectly listed 125 graduates (or 80.6%) as employed at graduation. U.S. News listed that incorrect number in its law school rankings. We immediately contacted U.S. News to alert them to the error. The nine month graduation rate of 86.5% is correct in the rankings.

We remain deeply sorry that we failed to catch this discrepancy in our reported data. We take data accuracy very seriously. In addition to working to fulfill our reporting obligations in a timely and accurate manner, we also provide comprehensive employment data on our website. You can review that data here. If you have any questions about our employment data, please feel free to contact Kendra Brodin, our Director of Career and Professional Development, at (651) 962-4865.

 

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