Phi Beta Cons

Rank and File

George: The only thing more controversial than the BCS rankings are the U.S. News rankings. We can go on and on and on about their flaws. But there are two things worth noting on their behalf: 1) University administrators and professors tend to hate them, and 2) the reason they hate them is because they begin to create a system of accountability that is otherwise totally lacking in higher education. Again, we can debate the merits of the system that U.S. News has built–I’d love to see its number-crunchers include civic-literacy measurements of the type that ISI is currently pioneering–but at least it has created something where previously there was nothing (or next to nothing). Students are free to accept or reject its implicit advice. What they have is a new tool for assessing their options. The University of Florida may be emarking on a quixotic mission. When it comes to quixotic missions, however, colleges and universities are capable of much worse.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.


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