Staff Editorial: A fresh start in the admissions office

It’s been nearly five months since GW announced it had been inflating freshman class rank data for a decade and got kicked off U.S. News & World Report’s rankings.

For these last five months, administrators have refused to answer questions about the sudden exit of the Office of Admissions’ top leader just one month after the unranking. They also conducted an audit of admissions data from only the past year, despite errors in a decade’s worth of data. And there is no written record of that audit.

The new leader of the admissions office, whose hire was announced last week, must restore trust and increase transparency after arriving at GW in July.

Laurie Koehler, the former dean of admissions at Bryn Mawr College, will manage admissions, financial aid and the registrar.

Koehler is no new face in the world of college admissions. Before her time at Bryn Mawr, she worked in admissions offices across the country, including the University of Virginia and Cornell and Miami universities.

But GW is recovering from a very public mistake that made headlines across local and national news outlets. Regardless of previous experience, Koehler must understand the shortcomings of the previous admissions dean to find success.

When U.S. News unranked GW in November, the University community was surprised and upset – and rightfully so. And administrators’ failure to conduct a thorough investigation of the last 10 years of admissions data is mind-boggling. For an accurate picture of GW admissions throughout the years – and to map an accurate admissions strategy moving forward – Koehler must conduct an audit of that decade of data.

The unranking and the subsequent lack of transparency are no longer daily topics of conversation on campus. Another admissions cycle is about to end seemingly unscathed, with application rates similar to those of past years. Officials also don’t expect fundraising to take a hit.

The unranking has faded into a campus-wide joke.

But GW isn’t off the hook.

Former dean Kathryn Napper resigned with little explanation in December, a month after the scandal broke, ending her 15-year career at GW. And the admissions office has been largely silent since it disclosed that it inflated data.

Six months may have passed, but questions still remain. Administrators have yet to answer questions as to the origin of the error, or explain why, despite the controversy, they claimed it occurred “without malice.”

As a new face takes over the admissions office, she still has old business to address.

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