Like all the schools of the Patriot League, Bucknell prides itself as being one of the most selective schools in the country. Not just anyone can get in; you need to be near the top of your class.
So it came as a shock to me, and plenty of others, when Mr. Bravman dropped the bombshell that Bucknell had reported false SAT and ACT averages for a seven year stretch from 2006 to 2012.
It was a shocking admission that makes one ask the question: Why?
As President, part of my responsibility is to protect the integrity of the University and keep the Board and other informed on issues that affect institutional integrity or risk negatively affecting our reputation in the high education and broader communities.
With that responsibility in mind, I am disappointed to report that when calculating the SAT scores (math and critical reading) of the classes entering the University from 2006 through 2012, the University omitted from the SAT scores of a number of students. Some of these omitted scores were higher than the SAT scores that the University reported, but most were lower. Meanwhile, for several of the years in which errant SAT data were reported, the University reported ACT scores for the entering classes that were actually one point lower than the correct figures.
The letter went on to say that over the seven years of misreported data, the SAT scores were "on average reported to be 16 points higher than they actually were," and - interestingly - ACT scores that were actually 1 point lower than reported.
Inside Higher Ed also reported on the misrepresented scores, too:
Bravman's letter said he was concerned that due to "national discussions about college admissions," some people "may reach the incorrect conclusion that the scores omitted were from some single cohort that people typically cite – such as student-athletes, students from underrepresented communities, children of substantial donors, legacies and so on. All such speculation would be in error. The students came from multiple cohorts, and of course the university will not disclose their identity."
The false data were discovered after Bill Conley, a new vice president for enrollment management, noted that the mean SAT score for incoming students this year was about 20 points below last year's reported average. He then investigated, and found the pattern of false reporting.
In an interview Saturday, Bravman said that he believed a single person had been responsible for the false data. SAT and ACT scores were reported to the institutional research office in aggregate form, he said. So the institutional research officials relied on that aggregate data and never had the raw data that might have raised questions.
Bravman said that he has had discussions -- which he described as unsatisfactory -- with the person who was responsible for the reporting, and whom Bravman declined to identify. Bravman said that this person denied trying to make the university's admissions process look better either for internal or external audiences, and never offered a real explanation for what had happened.