Phi Beta Cons

Ranking Schools

George: The only way a school such as GMU will improve its reputation is by having some system of metrics by which it might be evaluated–otherwise long-established reputations will remain established, whether they conform to reality or not. Imagine trying to rank college sports teams without any reference to their win-loss record or the quality of their coaches and players. You can bet that Mason wouldn’t have even made the NCAA tournament this year–did you hear Billy Packer complain about their presence on selection Sunday? The guy has been eating crow ever since. Any kind of ranking is an imprecise science, but it conveys valuable information to people who can make good use of it. U.S. News, for all of its flaws, offers a way to help prospective students as they weigh their choices. Here’s another ranking system, developed by Brian Leiter, that tries to measure a faculty’s scholarly impact based on per capita citations of professors. (On this survey, Mason ties for #23.) Maybe you should develop your own model, one that gives lots of points to schools that teach economics (such as Mason) and deducts points for those that give tenure to racial hucksters.

John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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