Friday, August 20, 2010


The US News rankings of colleges came out the other day, and I will confess that I enjoyed the fact that we at USC moved slightly ahead of UCLA and were just one spot behind Berkeley. We also tied with Carnegie-Mellon.

I also enjoyed this piece by Colin Driver in the Atlantic on what it is like to run a place (Reed College) that refused to participate in the rankings: he finds it liberating, particularly after being the law school dean at Penn, where he had to fill out a survey rating every other law school in the country.

I have reservations enough about the US News college rankings, but the professional schools rankings are something else altogether--they are based heavily on reputation. When I was Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at GW, I had to fill out a survey rating every MBA program in the country. Of course, I was completely clueless about the vast majority of them (University of Utah? Could be great, could be awful, I just don't know). More important, I think it is hard to really know about a program unless you have worked in it for awhile. I do think I understand the strengths and weaknesses of Wisconsin, GW and USC, but that is about it. I probably can tell you whether a place is strong at research in my fields of interest, but that is about it.


Ken said...

I'm always interested when Colin Diver's name pops up. He's one of the main characters (as a young parent and mayoral staffer moving from Lexington into Boston's South End in the early years of gentrification) in the best book I've ever read about urban politics/planning, "Common Ground". You've likely read it but if you haven't you should.

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