Sunday, June 26, 2011


 Third Greatest Public Research University in the World?

President Bruininks: Never Mind!

My friend, Michael McNabb writes:

Amid the financial ups and downs, the U's 15th president set his sights high: to make the school one of the world's top three public research universities within a decade.
It hasn't attained that status, and Bruininks says he's not sure it will, but he says his goal was not really about putting the U in the top three.
He said he wanted to start a conversation and make progress toward excellence on a variety of educational, research and public-outreach goals - particularly in comparison to peer institutions - which he says the U has done.
"The movement of these measures really tell an incredible story," he said.
St. Paul Pioneer Press June 26, 2011 at (emphasis added)

The University's Plan, Performance and Accountability Report, now in its ninth year, is a broad, governance-level discussion of theU of M's fulfillment of its mission and its success toward its aspiration of becoming a top-three public research university in the world. . . .
While university rankings are often a topic of great interest to the general public and influential in changing or, in most cases, reinforcing perception, these rankings have several limitations which make them inappropriate for strategic planning and monitoring progress.  Two of the most significant limitations are first, that the rankings are not guided by any empirical and theoretical framework to justify the selection of measures and methodology employed, and second, that the rankings adjust methodologies annually, making year-to-year analysis difficult and meaningless
See the introduction to the September 2010 University Plan, Performance and Accountability Report at pp. 42, 45 of the October 8, 2011 report of the Board of Regents at  (emphasis added) Presented by President Bruininks and Provost Sullivan.
Gilda Radner (as Litella) peered through her reading glasses and, in the character's trademark high-pitched, warbly voice, read a prepared statement in opposition to an editorial that the TV station had supposedly broadcast. These sketches were, in part, a parody of the Fairness Doctrine, which at the time required broadcasters in the United States to present opposing viewpoints on public issues. Litella became increasingly agitated as her statement progressed. Midway in her commentary, it became apparent that she had misheard and/or misunderstood the subject of the editorial to which she was responding. A typical example:
What is all this fuss I hear about the Supreme Court decision on a "deaf" penalty? It's terrible! Deaf people have enough problems as it is!
The news anchor interrupted Litella to point out her error, along the lines, "That's death, Ms. Litella, not deaf ... death." Litella would wrinkle her nose, say something like, "Oh, that's very different...." then meekly turn to the camera and say, "Never mind."

See also the conclusion to Section 2 of University Inc. Part II at

Michael W. McNabb
Attorney at Law 


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