Ethics from the Mouths of Mobsters and Columbia University’s Fallen Ranking

In the 1941 film, The Married Bachelor, Robert Young plays a con man trying to convince a mobster that said mobster can trust a professor to keep quiet about their  scheming efforts.  Young offers about the professor, “He’s honest!”  And the mobster replied, “I don’t know about this.  He’s educated.”

Sometimes it is the heavily degreed who pull the wool over our eyes.

Columbia had been ranked as #2 on the magazine’s top universities.  However, when U.S. News & World Report learned of questions about Columbia’s data in March 2022, it requested that Columbia provide the data to substantiate what it had submitted for ranking purposes. By July, with no “satisfactory responses” to its requests forthcoming, U.S. News & World Report unranked the school. Columbia went from #2 to “appearing nowhere on this list.”

Columbia Professor of Mathematics, Michael Thaddeus, explained why the numbers submitted were not accurate in an executive summary of his analysis that he put on his website in March 2022. Professor Thaddeus said that he began his investigation into the Columbia data when he realized how quickly Columbia had climbed to the #2 slot. .

Professor Thaddeus has described in his analysis what education can do when responding to simple questions.  There was some serious gaming by Columbia when it came to class size, the number of full-time faculty members, and the number of faculty with advanced degrees.  And one more thing. Let’s just say that any time you have two budgets — one that goes to the Department of Education and one that goes to U.S. News & World Report you may have crossed a few ethical lines.  The big difference?  Amount spent on educational instruction.  Much higher for rankings purposes than in reports to government bureaucrats.  The DOE budget is the accurate one — those penalties for submitting false information to the government can be stiff

Harvard and MIT have one less competitor in the #2 slot they shared with the now deranked Columbia. Yale stands alone at #1.  If I were an administrator at any of these three schools, I’d be checking with the math department for a little analytical help to determine if and how there has been any gaming.


About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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