Assistant dean at UI law school put on leave
URBANA — An administrator who was a bit player in the "Category I" scandal is now on leave after an apparent problem with reporting admissions data from the University of Illinois' law school.
Paul Pless, assistant dean for admissions in the law school, has not returned a call from The News-Gazette.
UI spokesman Tom Hardy would not confirm that Pless is on administrative leave but did say that the person in question was an assistant dean for admissions in the law school, Pless' former title.
A person answering the phone at the College of Law's admissions office said Pless "is on temporary leave."
The UI acknowledged on Sunday that inaccurate data about the grades and test scores of this semester's incoming first-year law school class was posted on its website.
The data has since been removed. Hardy said the university had not sent the incorrect information to the American Bar Association, which is mandated to collect such information.
Just last month, the ABA's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar sanctioned Villanova University for inaccurate law school admissions data, according to the ABA Journal.
The UI Ethics Office received information Aug. 26 that led to a review about possible inaccuracies in student profile data.
John Colombo, the law school's associate dean for academic affairs, has been placed in charge of the college's admissions office, which is responsible for the collection and dissemination of student selectivity data.
The data involve Law School Admission Test scores and grade-point averages of the incoming Class of 2014 that may have been inaccurately reported on the College of Law's website and in promotional materials.
On Monday, President Michael Hogan wrote the UI community an email that said, in part:
"This is unpleasant news and is apt to disappoint, even anger, anyone who hears it. At the same time, however, we can also say that a new culture has taken hold at our University. A tone of integrity and transparency is apparent across all of our campuses, and people are no longer reluctant to come forward. We take questionable actions seriously and review them thoroughly and expeditiously."
The UI Ethics Office and Office of University Counsel are leading the review.
Duff & Phelps, an independent advisory firm with expertise in data processing and forensic analysis, has been hired to work on the issue, along with Theodore Chung of the law firm Jones Day, who will conduct the review with the assistance of College of Law officials, Hardy said Sunday.
Pless' name came up in the so-called Category I scandal when he noted in a April 25, 2006, email that "a few spots" in law school would go to "special interest" students in the 2006-2007 school year.
Two days later, he complained that letting in one of the special interest students would jeopardize the goal of a 3.5 median grade point average.
Of the student, he said in April 27 email: "There is no track record of success, and when he is faced with the rigor of our program here, there is no reason to expect anything other than failure."
"I find it hard to justify admitting a student that we know will struggle here and that we know will struggle to pass the Bar."
Julie Wurth contributed to this story.