Friday, October 17, 2008

Golf Clap for Baylor

by Daniel Bennett

A few days after being nationally exposed for a somewhat dubious attempt to improve its ranking by offering a financial incentive to freshman to retake the SAT and improve their score, Baylor University announced that this move was a "goof". University spokeswoman Lori Fogleman offered this sentiment:

We have heard the criticism, it just had the appearance of impropriety. It raised unnecessary questions

Baylor students and faculty are embarrassed by the university's actions. In defense of its actions, university officials suggested that other schools were using similar tactics, although there were no “honest Abes” out there with the ambition to step forward and rescind of unethical behavior. I have a strong suspicion that there are a number of other culpable parties out there who have engaged in similar behavior to game the rankings, but are not going to declare penitence. This is classical bureaucracy unfolding - allow the exposed conduit to serve as the scapegoat while the rest of the flock scurries back to cover its tracks.

I haven't heard whether the merit scholarships based on the SAT score improvements will stand or not, but I do believe that Baylor is doing the right thing in admitting that it was wrong. Hopefully, this expose of risqué university behavior will open the door to increased transparency and accountability of the US academe.

1 comment:

Jane S. Shaw said...

Daniel: It was good that someone discovered what Baylor was doing, and ferreting out such information is important to keep these schools honest. I'm not sure that it will open the door to greater transparency at other schools, however. Baylor was "caught" -- but other schools will keep trying their own methods of gaming the rankings. Apparently, the incentive is very strong.