Saturday, October 13, 2007

Where Do We Really Stand at the University of Minnesota?
Accountable to U (2007)


Yesterday the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota met at the Morris campus, a fine undergraduate institution with a national reputation for excellence.


The lengthy agenda for the meeting included a report from the measurement and metrics (M&M) crew.


(Warning, this is a large pdf file.)


Selected information from that report is presented here in the hope that it will lead to a dialog within the University community about where we are and where it is desirable to go in light of this information. For another view of the situation, please see: "Oh Lord, It’s Hard to be Humble, When You Have Ambitious Aspirations."



From the M&M report:



The following institutions have been selected for comparison with the University of Minnesota:


University of Florida


University of Illinois


University of Michigan


The Ohio State University


Pennsylvania State University


University of Texas


University of California, Berkeley


University of California, Los Angeles


University of Washington


University of Wisconsin


(I would prefer that we compared ourselves with the other BigTen schools, Northwestern excepted, but be that as it may…)



Our 2006 ranking for Exceptional Students:



Top 10% of High School Class
10th
Average ACT Score
10th
2-Year Retention Rate
10th
6-Year Graduation Rate
11th




Exceptional Faculty


National Academy Members
8th
Faculty Awards
8th


Total Research Expenditures 8th



Some Details


Percentage of freshman in top 10 percent of high school class


Berkeley
99 %
UCLA
97
U Michigan
90
U Washington
84
U Florida
72
U Texas
70
U Wisconsin
58
U Illinois
55
Ohio State
43
U Minnesota
39
Penn State
37



Our ranking by this index is 10/11. The actual figures are quite instructive and give further indication of the difficult task ahead of us if we believe that we can significantly improve our rankings in this index of quality.



Converted SAT and ACT scores of new, entering freshmen


Berkeley
30.0
Michigan
29.4
UCLA
28.5
Wisconsin
28.3
Illinois
27.8
Florida
27.6
Texas
26.7
Ohio State
26.3
Penn State
26.0
Minnesota
25.9
Washington
25.9



First and Second Year retention rates


Berkeley
96.2%
93.7%
Michigan
96.0
92.7
UCLA
96.7
`91.2
Wisconsin
92.9
89.3
Penn State
93.5
88.8
Illinois
92.6
88.5
Washington
93.1
87.1
Texas
92.5
86.9
Ohio State
91.5
84.8
Minnesota
86.1
78.9



Four, Five, and Six Year Graduation Rates


Penn State
64.9%
87.8%
90.1%
UCLA
62.6
86.2
89.2
Berkeley
63.9
84.5
88.9
Michigan
70.3
85.7
86.9
Illinois
62.5
77.9
81.5
Wisconsin
50.4
76.3
79.2
Florida
55.0
75.6
79.0
Texas
48.1
72.6
76.9
Washington
51.2
71.1
74.8
Ohio State
42.3
65.8
71.1
Minnesota
40.6
57.7
60.5


Pertinent question: What is Penn State doing right? Maybe we can learn from them? I understand they also have a football team...


National Academy Members


Berkeley
212
Washington
85
UCLA
73
Michigan
73
Wisconsin
71
Texas
56
Illinois
55
Minnesota
36
Penn State
28
Ohio State
22
Florida
20


Membership in the National Academies is a particularly interesting topic in trying to understand the folly of our ten year march to Greatness. Mr. B. believes that membership in the academy is correlated strongly with the perceived quality of an institution. For example there are many faculty members at the U of M who would be in the Academy if they were at institutions higher in the pecking order. And some members of the academy would certainly have been elected earlier than they have been if they were located elsewhere. This is an academic example of the Matthew effect: "Unto everyone that hath, shall be given" colloquially expressed as: "them as has, gits."


So the sad facts are: Berkeley - an astonishing 212 members [sic], UWashington - 85, UCLA - 73, UMichigan - 73, UWisconsin - 71, UTexas - 56, UIllinois 55, UMinnesota 36. There is a gap of approximately twenty between us and Illinois. At this point we should worry more about Penn State and Ohio State closing the gap with us.


So in round numbers Berkeley has almost six times as many National Academy members; Washington, UCLA, and Michigan have more than twice as many. We simply are not going to be able to catch up to these folks on any realistic timescale. Nor do we have the money to catch up by buying National Academy members. In fact quite the opposite. Texas recently bought one of our chemistry faculty members. We simply could not meet or even approach the Texas offer. This faculty member was subsequently inducted into the national academy having moved to Texas.




Total Research Expenditures and Percent Increase Over the Last Five Years


Michigan
809 $mil
47 %
Wisconsin
798
44
UCLA
786
48
Washington
707
34
Penn State
626
68
Ohio State
609
68
Berkeley
554
7
Minnesota
549
33
Florida
531
69
Illinois
500
34
Texas
411
51


In total research expenditures (2005) we ranked 8th in the peer group. In our five year percentage increase we ranked 10/11.




Federal Research Expenditures and Growth Rate for the Last Five Years


Washington
606 $mil
56 %
Michigan
554
52
Wisconsin
478
71
UCLA
470
71
Penn State
359
82
Minnesota
320
39
Ohio State
294
122
Berkeley
291
40
Illinois
290
50
Texas
255
42
Florida
231
92



So in Federal research funding we ranked 6/11, but a disturbing trend is clearly evident. In terms of our increase over the past five years we rank dead last, 11/11. Thus our formerly very strong position enables us to look respectable but obviously it is steadily eroding.



Food for thought? Is it really credible to continue on with this "ambitious aspiration" to "become one of the top three public research universities [in the world]?" Let's admit we have some serious problems here and concentrate on fixing them. Let's also commit to getting the University of Minnesota at least to the mid-point of the BigTen rankings outlined above. That will be a difficult enough task.



In the hope that our administrators will soon get real,



Ciao, Bonzo

2 comments:

Ford said...

Has there been some serious discussion about we mean by top 3? We could refuse to admit any student not in the top 10% of their class, immediately moving us to the "top" of that category, but isn't support from state tax dollars contingent on us educating Minnesotans? Or are we arguing that by becoming an elite school we will draw brilliant students from elsewhere who will then stay and start businesses, hiring the native Minnesotans who weren't smart enough to get in? Similarly, is the purpose of research to bring in grants, or to solve problems critical to the state's economy and environment?

Mr. B. said...

Well the galling thing is that the top three is usually referred to by our administrators as: "one of the top three public research universities in the world [sic]." This is ridiculous on its face and inconsistent with our land grant mission.

Eventually our administration may be forced to face facts and get real. Unfortunately, this appears to be taking a long time and they have their advertising campaign going full blast right now.