CHICAGO — The University of Illinois College of Law has been censured and fined $250,000 for intentionally publishing false admissions information to make the student body look more academically accomplished than it was.
It is the first time the American Bar Association has fined a university for reporting inaccurate consumer data, according to an ABA spokesman.
The sanctions also require that the law school post a copy of the censure in a prominent spots on its website and hire a compliance monitor for the next two years to monitor the school’s admissions process and data reporting.
The ABA regulates and accredits law schools and can impose sanctions when a school violates its rules.
The group’s section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar said it would allow U. of I. to retain its accreditation. However, it found that the school had violated the ABA’s policy that law schools maintain sound admissions practices and publish basic, accurate consumer information.
U. of I. reported false LSAT scores and incoming student GPAs to the ABA and others for the entering class of 2005 and 2007 through 2011.
While U. of I. officials have said a former admissions dean acted alone in inflating data, the ABA found that U. of I. had created an environment that placed too much emphasis on rankings.
To that end, the ABA also is forcing U. of I. to end an early entrance program that had been touted as a way to recruit top U. of I. undergraduates.
Behind the scenes, however, former admissions dean Paul Pless revealed in emails that the iLEAP program would lure students with high GPAs who would boost the school’s ranking. The median LSAT scores and GPAs of a law school class are key factors in rankings, and both had been inflated in six of the last seven years.
“No matter what the competitive pressures, law schools must not cheat. The College of Law cheated,” according to the censure released Tuesday.
A U. of I. spokesman did not have an immediate comment.
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