College officials disagree over value of university rankings

YOUNGSTOWN — What’s in a rank? When it comes to ranking the top colleges in the nation, apparently there’s more to it than just a number.

A recently formed alliance of colleges, called the Annapolis Group, is choosing not to participate in a controversial part of the coveted U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges.”

After meeting in June, about 80 presidents and 71 academic deans of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges expressed intent not to participate in the annual ranking exercise, mainly because of one of the main aspects of the rankings: the peer assessment portion.

Weight of the peer assessment accounts for 25 percent of the school’s score, the largest single factor in determining a school’s rank under U.S. News’ criteria.

Hiram College is a member of the Annapolis group, and has chosen to opt out of the 2008 rankings.

Hiram President Dr. Thomas V. Chema said the main reason he did not participate this year is simple: “I wasn’t in a position to make good, solid judgments on all the other institutions.” He’s referring to the peer assessment.

Negative aspects

There were, however, other reasons that Chema said made the rankings inaccurate. He said the rankings focus too much on the inputs instead of the outputs. “How does it fulfill its mission? How does it perform for its students? That’s a hard thing to measure, but something the rankings leave out.”

Chema said the rankings are “causing low income people to feel they can’t achieve an education at a private institution. It’s sending a message that somehow if you don’t go to Harvard or Yale your career is ruined. Fortunately, I think most young people are getting information from lots of different sources.”

Another negative aspect of the rankings, Chema said, is that some institutions are conducting political campaigns to increase their rankings. He said this is a waste of money by these institutions and a poor use of resources and energy that could be better used on students already attending their institutions.

Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.