Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Speaking of Rankings -
(Or not Speaking If You Are OurLeader)

The First Annual BonzoSummary (BS08) of BigU's Progress Toward Greatness

The US News 2008 Edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools (2008 ed.) has appeared. [The numbering scheme is a little odd, because the report issues in 2007 for data that was presumably collected in 2006. But we will stick with the US News numbering scheme.] These are the rankings that university administrators like to dismiss as meaningless - except of course, if their school does well, then the rankings are very informative or even valuable research. A perceptive article on this topic, "Law Deans Hate Rankings, Love Ranks," has appeared in the Pioneer Press.

The Annual BonzoSummary (BS) will keep track of how BigU progresses along the road to greatness as we are re-engineered, er transformed, into GreatBigU. This will serve to monitor our progress toward becoming one of the three top public research universities in the world.

Disclaimer: The BonzoSummary will track medical schools, law schools, business schools, and engineering schools. There is (quite) a bit more to a university than these parts, but it is unlikely that one will be in the “top three” without strong performance in these areas. Having said this, some of the best universities in the world do not have medical schools, e.g., Caltech and MIT - despite what the Arizona/Florida rankings claim.

University of Minnesota - tied for 23 overall
U.S. public universities above us:

3. Berkeley
4. Georgia Tech
5. Illinois
9. Michigan
11. Texas
12. Purdue
13. UCSD
14. Texas A&M, Wisconsin (tie)
16. UCLA, Maryland (tie)
19. UC Santa Barbara
21. Penn State
23. Minnesota, Washington (tied)

Thirteen public research universities ahead of us in Engineering

Schools of Business
University of Minnesota - tied for 25th overall
U.S. public university business schools above us:

8. Berkeley
11. Michigan
12. Virginia
16. UCLA
18. Texas, North Carolina (tied)
22. Ohio State, Purdue (tied)
24. Indiana
25. Georgia Tech, Maryland, Minnesota (tied)

So in the US there are 9 public university business schools ahead of us.

Schools of Medicine
Minnesota - tied for 39

6. Washington
10. Michigan
13. UCLA
14. UCSD
15. Pittsburgh
19, UT Southwestern
20. University of North Carolina
23. University of Virginia, University of Colorado (tied)
27. University of Alabama/Birmingham, University of Wisconsin (tied)
30. University of Iowa
31. Ohio State
32. Oregon
39. University of Minnesota

Fifteen above us in research

Medical Schools - Primary Care
University of Minnesota - 13 overall

Above us

1. University of Washington
2. North Carolina
3. Colorado
4. Oregon
5. Michigan State
6. East Carolina
7. Vermont
9. Wisconsin
10. Nebraska
11. U Mass
13. Minnesota

Eleven above us

Law Schools
University of Minnesota - tied for 20 overall
Higher Ranked Public Universities

8. Berkeley, Michigan (tied)
10. Virginia
15. UCLA
18. Texas
20. University of Minnesota

Five above us

So what's it all about (Alfie)?

It should be painfully obvious by now that the administration declared goal of being one of the top three research universities in the world is inappropriate, given any reasonable estimate of our current ranking against US institutions. The "whole world" part smacks of hubris and just makes things worse. Sure one can argue that these rankings don't mean anything or that there are better rankings (Arizona/Florida, anyone?). However, the US News ranking is very important and is consulted by students and faculty for unbiased information about relative strengths of graduate programs. Google "university rankings" and see what pops up.

Mr. B. is not particularly upset about these rankings and in some cases they are quite impressive - go Law School ! [BigU's law school has actually gone down one place since last year - but such small fluctuations are meaningless in the rankings game.] There are some hints here as to how we can improve. Perhaps we should consider them rather than going off on a vainglorious crusade to becoming one of the "top three research universities in the world?"

It will be interesting to see how things progress at BigU in the coming decade, the time frame OurLeader has given for BigU's achieving Greatness. The Bonzo Summary (09) will appear next Spring in the third year of the Great March.

More snow, the real thing, is predicted tomorrow at BigU.

Ciao, Bonzo

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