OU Agrees To Certify Data After Misreporting Uncovered
NORMAN, Oklahoma - University of Oklahoma officials have agreed to certify data sent to the nation’s most notable school ranking outlet, after being asked to comply with the stricter standard in the wake of the revelation the University misreported alumni donations.
In a letter sent to OU by U.S. News and World Report, Interim President Joe Harroz and Board of Regents Chairman Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes were asked to certify financial data via signed letters for the next three years. While that may not seem like much, it is the national ranking outlet telling OU it's keeping a close eye on the University.
According to a U.S. News spokesperson, the outlet uses data given to it from universities and compares that to other financial and federal records to determine how to rank schools, without requiring the kind of official verification OU is now being asked to provide.
OU was caught misreporting alumni donation data in 2018 by as much as five percent. Alumni donations are routinely in the millions meaning five percent could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The University’s ranking had also played a large part in how former President David Boren advertised the school to donors, alumni and potential students.
In a statement, Harroz said there are new "expectations and protocols" now in place for data reporting.
"We will follow the request for certification of future data by our Board of Regents and believe it represents a best practice that all universities should consider when reporting institutional data. Our University has established expectations and protocols in order to ensure integrity in reporting, and we appreciate the opportunity U.S. News and World Report has provided for future reports,” he said.
An OU spokesperson did not go into detail about the new expectations or protocols.
The misreporting was at the center of one of the high-profile investigations at OU and the subject of a lawsuit from a student who said the school's inflated ranking was a part of her decision to go to OU.
OU was unranked in the latest edition of the U.S. News. According to the letter, in order to be ranked for the 2019 fall ranking, OU needs to have certified 2018-2019 data sent to the Report by July 20.