Villanova story raises questions about rankings

Villanova Law School’s dean says the school reported inflated grade-point-averages that may have boosted the law school’s national rankings. 

The school is conducting an internal review.  Villanova ranked 67th among U.S. law schools according to U.S. News and World Report. 


The popular university ranking has come under fire in recent years.

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Back in 2007, Lloyd Thacker, Executive Director of the non-profit Education Conservancy, sent a letter to dozens of college and university presidents–describing the subjective and potentially misleading nature of the U.S. News college rankings.  He asked them not to advertise how they fared on the list.  Some 70 college presidents signed the letter.

Thacker says there is intense pressure on college presidents to place high on the list. 

“It’s easy to bring a president in and say all right, we want you to raise our rank by five places, and here’s a $25,000 bonus if you do it,” said Thacker.

What’s not as easy, Thacker says, is producing a list that measures how well a school is actually preparing students.

Villanova Law School isn’t the first to have been involved in possible data manipulation.  Clemson University moved up 16 spots – to 22nd in the 2009 ranking, and shortly after, a faculty member accused the school of altering data.

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