Thursday, July 15, 2010

NSF Fellowship Data

How Are We Doing at the University of Minnesota?

[Note added later: downloadable pdf of this post]

...we're in the midst of transformative change en route to becoming one of the top three public research universities in the world. [sic]

President Bruininks Dec 7, 2009 (web site)

(Really, Bob? Which one of those top three above - in the US - are you planning to dislodge? Berkeley, Michigan or Udub? And how, exactly are you planning to pass UCLA, Wisconsin, Texas, Illinois, and Florida? To say nothing of other high quality publics not even in your self-selected list... You've only got four years, but then you'll be gone in a year. Someone else's problem?)

For those in Morrill Hall or on the U's Board of Regents who think the Shanghai Rankings mean something...

I've got a longer post up at the other place, here are some of the low-lights:

A recent example of pitiful efforts to document progress toward becoming one of the top three research universities in the world was given by Provost Sullivan as described in this post: University of Minnesota Provost Declares Shanghai Rankings Best. As is pointed out in this link: "Some people follow the world school rankings published in Shanghai blindly. You'd be foolish to do so."

I ran across something today, that I think the Morrill Hall Gang and the Regents might find interesting. Every year the National Science Foundation gives out about two thousand fellowships. These awards go for such things as engineering, physics, biological sciences... There are even some awards for social sciences. It is considered a great honor to get an NSF fellowship and these grad students to be are the best and the brightest and highly sought after.

They are also in the position to pick what graduate school they want to attend, knowing that their stipend will be provided. Thus the source of these people - their undergrad institution - and their choices of graduate institution are quite revealing and probably a pretty decent indication of the current strengths of an institution in terms of both turning out good people and in being attractive as high quality research institutions.

So how did the University of Minnesota do? I'll let you judge. I'll let you decide whether these results validate the hubris about "one of the top three public research universities in the solar system."

From NSF data:

(These institutions include the U of M and our so-called aspirational peers, whatever that means. I'd prefer to compare us with the BigTen schools. But so be it. The Morrill Hall Gang has made this bed, let them lie in it.)

Undergraduate Institution of Fellowship Recipients:

Berkeley (67)

Texas [35]
Michigan (31)
Florida (29)
Illinois (27)
Wisconsin (25)
University of Washington (25)
UCLA (23)

Minnesota (15)

Penn State (13)
Ohio State (12)

U of M Rank 9/11

Graduate Institutions Chosen by Fellows

Berkeley 192

Michigan 74
Washington 56

Wisconsin 37

Illinois 31
Texas 32

Florida 22

Minnesota 21

Ohio State 10
Penn State 7

U of M rank: 9/11

So Provost Sullivan and President Bruininks, which is more indicative of where we stand? The source and choices of two thousand of our best and brightest, or the Shanghai rankings?

(Maybe we could recruit a dead Nobel Prize winner...)

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