“Columbia’s undergraduate experience is and always has been centered on small classes taught by highly accomplished faculty. This fact remains unchanged. But anything less than the complete accuracy of the data we report – regardless of either the size or the reason – is inconsistent with the standards of excellence that Columbia holds itself to,” the statement read. “We deeply regret the shortcomings of our previous reports and are committed to doing better.”
Thaddeus pointed to the data the university submitted to US News & World Report in questioning Columbia’s seemingly meteoric rise in the rankings.
“Can we be sure that the data accurately reflects the reality of life within the university? Thaddeus asked rhetorically. “Unfortunately, the answer is no.”
The math professor then compiled data on “undergraduate class size, percentage of faculty with terminal degrees, percentage of full-time faculty, and student-to-faculty ratio” submitted by Columbia University to US News & World Report and compares the data “with figures calculated by other means, relying on information made public by Columbia elsewhere.”
In his findings, Thaddeus said there were “sometimes quite large discrepancies” that always seemed to work in Columbia’s favor.
“On two of the parameters questioned by our faculty member [Thaddeus], class size, and faculty with terminal degrees, we determined that we had previously relied on outdated and/or incorrect methodologies. We have modified these methodologies for current and future data submissions, as evidenced by the newly released common datasets,” Boyce noted in June.
The CDS initiative, represented by US News & World Report, the College Board, and educational services company Peterson’s, was launched in 1997 to provide higher education institutions with “a set of standards and definitions of data elements rather than a survey instrument or a set of data represented in a database.”
In Friday’s statement, Boyce said the university released two joint datasets, one for Columbia College and Columbia Engineering, and one for Columbia General Studies.
“The information included in the two common datasets reflects the University’s work over the past several months to review our data collection processes, following questions raised by a faculty member regarding the accuracy of certain data that the University submitted to US News and World Report in 2021 for its Undergraduate University Rankings,” Boyce said.
CNN reached out to US News & World Report on Sunday evening to respond to Columbia’s statement on Friday, but a representative was not immediately available for comment.
Boyce added that the university will “continue to refine and revise” its data reporting methodologies, adding that “aspects of an education in Colombia cannot be measured by common denominator type measures.”
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