College of Law situation not a blow to UI integrity

The deep cynicism of Wednesday’s Daily Illini editorial (“Fool me twice: Restoring UI integrity an uphill battle”) does not accurately reflect a renewed culture of integrity and transparency taking hold at the University, nor the no-nonsense response to what appears to be events markedly different than the widespread series of actions and poor judgments involving the inappropriate admission of students to the U of I more than two years ago.

In the current situation, a concerned member of the University community felt confident enough in the U of I’s ethical standards to call attention to the misreporting of data in the College of Law. Senior leadership of the University, the campus and the law school immediately responded with a swift and thorough investigation utilizing external, independent experts in such matters. As part of its response, the University self-reported to college accreditation and ranking organizations, publicly corrected inaccurate information and provided periodic updates to the college and the community. A final report is forthcoming, along with corrective measures to ensure that such a misstep cannot be repeated.

Some perspective is in order. The episode in 2009 involved the inappropriate admission of students to the University. The current situation involves the mischaracterization of the academic profile of students who had already been admitted. The admissions controversy of 2009 entailed substantial abuse as a result of external pressures from political and other constituents outside the University. While our investigation remains open, it does not currently appear that the problem here was systemic, the result of external pressures, or that it affected admissions decisions — a very different situation than the admissions controversy of 2009.

To claim that this represents another episode in a long pattern of widespread corruption at the University would be the same as asserting that because one student behaves illegally, then criminal behavior must be endemic in the student population. To the contrary, with rare exceptions, our students, faculty and staff are upstanding and law-abiding citizens.

The measure of the institution is how it responds and the culture it fosters as a place of integrity, ethics, transparency and public trust. All of us at the University of Illinois work daily to build and keep that trust. This incident is regrettable, yes, but the fact that it was internally reported, along with the University’s swift, thorough and transparent response reflects significant and ongoing improvement over the past two years.

_Michael J. Hogan, University President_