Tuesday, March 27, 2012

And the other shoe drops...

A couple of weeks ago I posted about how the University of St. Thomas School of Law had replaced the William Mitchell College of Law as the second ranked law school in the Twin Cities in the US News best law school rankings.  The post noted that St. Thomas, despite taking its data accuracy "very seriously," had over reported by more than 200% the number of St. Thomas graduates who were employed at graduation.  It wasn't clear to me whether correct reporting would have ranked William Mitchell above St. Thomas.

We don't have an answer to that question but the National Law Journal reports that US News has decided to move St. Thomas into the "unranked" rankings.  Unranked schools are the lowest 25% of American Bar Association accredited schools. An asterisk will appear next to St. Thomas's entry to explain the change.

Unsurprisingly, Thomas Mengler, the dean at St. Thomas, is not very happy about this.  Dean Mengler wrote a letter to US News complaining that in previous years schools did not suffer in the rankings until the year following the discovery of inflated numbers.  I have no idea why a worse rating next year is better than a worse rating this year but assume that Dean Mengler knows what he is doing. 

That said, Dean Mengler really isn't concerned about the punishment that St. Thomas receives.  He is more concerned that future accidental mistakes of this nature will not be uncovered because of the precedent set by US News.  Dean Mengler writes, "I fear your decision will serve as a disincentive for others to self-report errors."  That may be true.  However, a steep punishment might also serve to make folks double check so that the numbers are accurate the first time.  In any event, it is nice to see the Dean take time out from his immediate problem and instead focus on how the punishment hurts the punisher.

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