… in the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that the most charitable description of what’s been going on at the clubby University of Minnesota medical school would be “bizarre.”
Saturday, October 13, 2007
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 |
|National Academy Members||8th|
Total Research Expenditures 8th
Percentage of freshman in top 10 percent of high school class
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
First and Second Year retention rates
Four, Five, and Six Year Graduation Rates
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
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 %|
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 %|
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,