Saturday, October 2, 2010

World-Class Greatness

Bill Gleason, associate professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, has recently published an essay about land-grant universities and the rankings game in the Chronicle of Higher Education. (Also see Bill's excellent blog, Periodic Table.)

Bill makes many astute observations in the essay. On the aspiration to rise in the rankings:

Attempting to game the rankings is a losing proposition for land-grant institutions because some of the factors that affect rankings are in direct opposition to the land-grant mission. Because high SAT scores and high-school rank often influence university rankings, many institutions try to recruit students from out of state to raise those numbers. What of the citizens of the state who are squeezed by such tactics?

On Minnesota's Strategic Propaganda (oops, Positioning!) Initiative to become one of the top three public universities in the WORLD by 2014:

There's something both hubristic and clueless about statements like those from my university. Does the administration believe that the public cannot see through the unreality of its intention to be one of the top three public universities in the world in four more years?

And on what the University of Minnesota should aspire to:

The University of Minnesota is, in other words, a tremendous resource for the state of Minnesota. Public education should be the great equalizer, and Minnesota and other land-grant institutions should return to their original land-grant priorities.

1 comment:

  1. Are the wheels coming off the Morrill Hall bus?

    Even the deans seem to be abandoning this administration.

    Please see:

    "Tuition Next Year at the University of Minnesota, Time for a great Conversation?"

    From Senate Committee on Finance and Planning
    Tuesday, September 21, 2010:

    "...the cost pools are growing but there is no new revenue. If they raise tuition, a large part of the increase goes to central administration..."

    "Central costs must go down or in four years her college [Carlson School Dean - believe it or not!] will be spending more on central costs than it does on its faculty. Making that change will require hard choices and it will require that the University model revenue and live within its budget."

    "Students are paying a lot more than when President Bruininks started in office, and the assumption has been that quality of the experience would increase as well. Now they are hearing that the quality is eroding. How can the University play in the global village when its costs are increasing and the student experience is declining in quality?"

    "What is extremely important as the University plans for the next biennium, Dean [CLA] Parente said, is that it makes clear what it is doing to enhance quality for students. That must be a main driver; the University cannot argue for tuition increases because the state is cutting funding. The tuition increases must be related to the quality of education."

    And, irony of ironies:

    "The institution needs to move to a strategic-planning model [sic], Dean Finnegan said."