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Top Three? Where are our priorities?

From the Daily:

Rankings shouldn’t be top priority

A newly released set of world university rankings shows the University of Minnesota moving up 55 spots from last year’s ranking to 87th. This is a better ranking than the Forbes ranking, released over the summer, in which the University placed 524th, but it’s also not as good as the Center for University Performance rankings, which lists it as 14th in the nation.

In short, the ranking system for colleges and universities is bunk.
There are no perfect rankings; there is no end-all be-all answer. And yet, in spite of rankings for the University ranging from 14th in the nation to 524th in the world, the number one priority of University president Bob Bruininks and Provost Thomas Sullivan is to become one of the top three research universities in the world.

Because the criteria for college rankings can include gauges ranging from the number of faculty research citations to the quality of ratemyprofessor.com reviews, college advisors across the country are coming out strongly against them. “Don’t get hung up on rankings,? advised Valerie Broughton, a Minneapolis-based educational consultant, in a Star Tribune article last summer.

In the face of financial worries across the University, whether they be related to salary for AFSCME workers or tuition and debt for students, we urge the University to see the light and realize that rankings aren’t as important as they seem. Shift the focus from seeming like a great university and actually make this a great place to learn and a great place to work. You’ll be top three in the eyes of your students, faculty and staff.

"It's one thing if you're bringing in a criminal to speak. But if someone's under investigation, that's fair game," he [Parente] said.

Parente said his approach to McGuire was along the lines of: "We don't really care about the stock options. You know stuff. Tell us what you think."

"Obviously, the situation that happened to Francois Sainfort and Julie Jacko has not been a positive one for us," Finnegan said. (Strib, 30 August '08)

"I think people will think what they want to think," Cerra said, in response to possible criticisms of appointing someone who is under investigation. [Daily: 30 July 2008]

A majority of students at the University think the school is trying to be a top-three institution at the expense of its students. [Daily, July 2, 2008]

The architects have been given their orders and cannot change the design, Professor Balas said; if the building [Science Teaching and Student Services Buiding] is constructed as designed, it will be a disaster.

Faculty Consultative Committee - June 19, 2008

"I think we need to put ourselves in the position of acting according to the highest ethical principles. I believe our people do that now and I believe our people will be doing that in the future as well." President Bruininks (Daily: 6-18-08)

"Bruininks said he didn't know of a university in the United States that was doing something [MoreU Park aka Muscoplat's Folly] as 'courageous and innovative.'"

"Regent David Metzen said he thought the future of the project is the most important decision to face the University in the last 15 years." (Daily - 6/13/08)

Bob, Tom,

The Daily is right about your inappropriate priorities - for just a few examples, see above. Why don't you spend some time fixing our very serious problems in the here and now rather than pointing to an illusory goal that is not attainable? This attitude is what got you into serious trouble with the light rail situation.

The University of Minnesota already is a great university. Let's make it one that we can all be proud of.

To paraphrase: Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

Bill Gleason

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