Knapp: GW does not have formal report of admissions audit

Left to right: Senior Associate Provost and Dean of Students Peter Konwerski, Senior Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman, Provost Steven Lerman, Vice President for External Relations Lorraine Voles and University President Steven Knapp address students at a forum Monday. Jordan Capizola | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Chris Hebdon.

The University does not have a formal report of the audit that it hired a firm to conduct on admissions data, University President Steven Knapp said 11 days after GW announced it had been inflating statistics.

Knapp said GW only received an oral report from the audit firm Baker Tilly, which examined one year of admissions data. He and four top administrators fielded questions at a town hall on the misreporting incident – an error he said the school is “embarrassed by” – and GW being kicked off U.S. News & World Report’s top colleges rankings.

The question-and-answer session with an about 50-student audience served as the first public address on the incident since GW disclosed it was misreporting freshman admissions statistics Nov. 8.

“We looked at this data and we looked at the rest of the data and we found that, as had been reported, there was indeed an error in the class ranking data,” Knapp said.

When Claremont McKenna College admitted to data misreporting earlier this year, it released an audit report.

Senior Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman – who has been the primary spokesman on the admissions data errors – also attended the event. Provost Steven Lerman and Senior Associate Provost and Dean of Students Peter Konwerski also joined the panel.

Lorraine Voles, the head of GW’s Office of External Relations, which has controlled the narrative throughout the public relations fiasco, also handled about half the questions posed to the administrators Monday night.

Voles immediately responded to a question as to why Associate Vice President and Dean of Admissions Kathryn Napper, who has overseen the admissions department for more than 15 years and has yet to publicly comment on GW’s misreported data aside from declining and referring to external relations, was absent from the forum.

“So I suppose that’s mine,” Voles said. “Do you want that in 140 characters? The Office of External Relations is dealing with press inquires on this issue, as they deal with press inquires on all issues facing the University.”

She also said Maltzman, who oversees admissions, had been “dealing with the media both at the University and outside the University.”

Student Association Executive Vice President Abby Bergren was asked to send questions to Knapp before the event, giving him time to prepare his responses.

Some questions centered around the origin of the data error, to which Lerman said “Those who are responsible for reporting the data are no longer generating the data.”

The vague response is one administrators have echoed in recent days – including Knapp, who said Wednesday that “people are being held accountable” for the inaccuracies but has repeatedly declined to say what personnel decisions have been made.

Administrators also stressed their plans to prevent miscalculations in the future, like periodic audits of admissions data and the hire of a new enrollment manager who will oversee admissions and financial aid.

After about an hour, the administrators left the event, citing commitments made before the sudden scheduling of what the Student Association called an emergency forum.

After the forum, Bergren was optimistic that this event would help put this issue to bed.

“Hopefully the students got something new and this provided perspective,” Bergren said.

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