- Columbia University will not participate in U.S. News and World Report’s upcoming Best Colleges rankings after one of its professors challenged the validity of the data submitted to the publication.
- The New York Ivy League institution said Thursday it had begun a review of the allegations made by mathematics professor Michael Thaddeus earlier this year but had not completed the probe by the July 1 deadline to send information to U.S. News.
- Columbia Provost Mary Boyce did not provide a timeline for finishing its investigation but said in a statement the university “will take no shortcuts in getting it right.”
Columbia dropping out of next year’s rankings follows recent scandals linked to the database, which many college officials say plays an outsized role influencing opinions of prospective students and families, despite its perceived flaws.
Earlier this year, the top-ranked University of Southern California pulled out of the graduate school rankings for its Rossier School of Education after an investigation found its dean had facilitated the submission of false information to the magazine dating to at least 2013.
Also this year, a former Temple University business school dean was sentenced to 14 months in prison and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine after being found guilty of falsifying data about the school’s business degree programs to U.S. News.
Thaddeus, the Columbia mathematics professor, first raised questions in February about the data the institution provides to U.S. News.
He collected evidence that Columbia had fudged information about several factors used to determine the rankings, including undergraduate class sizes and how much it spends on instruction. Thaddeus compared the public-facing data in U.S. News’ rankings to data Columbia had released in financial statements and other sources.
The Ivy League school at first had defended the veracity of its data. But in a statement Thursday, Provost Boyce said the university had “long conducted what we believed to be a thorough process for gathering and reporting institutional data, but we are now closely reviewing our processes in light of the questions raised.”
Instead, Columbia will publish a set of statistics in the fall, which it said will contain much of the same background found in its U.S. News profile.
U.S. News’ forthcoming rankings are due to be released in September. Columbia had occupied the No. 2 spot on the most recent version of the list.
A spokesperson for U.S. News did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.