August 18, 2006

How UChicago went from 15th to 9th in one year

In my earlier post on how the hell the UChicago jumped from 15th to 9th "best college" in the country implied that the change must have been in US News’s methodology. Turns out the change was Chicago’s responsibility, they just decided to finally make an effort to report the correct data to US News:

Concerned that a continued slide in rankings might affect the University of Chicago's reputation, Michael Behnke, the vice president for university relations and dean of college enrollment, went to Washington, D.C., with other top officials to meet with magazine researchers and editors...In calculating the number of classes with fewer than 20 students, for example, university officials did not count the freshmen writing courses that have an average of eight students.By including the writing classes, the percentage of classes under 20 increased to about 67 percent, from 60 percent, Behnke said."That was a 'duh' moment. Why aren't we including these all along?" Behnke said.Officials also found a way to improve the alumni giving rank—the percentage of alumni who donate to the university—by excluding graduates who couldn't be located.The university also improved its per-student spending calculation by relabeling $15 million in annual library expenditures that had been incorrectly filed under a category other than educational expenditures—information that also is submitted to the federal government. The additional per-student spending improved the university's position in the "financial resources" category.Bob Morse, director of data research at U.S. News & World Report, said he was surprised that university officials had done such a poor job checking their data in the past.Behnke said the university also changed other calculations, but he declined to say in which areas."Frankly, I don't want to help my competitors," he said. "Let them figure it out. The problem is that they probably already figured it out. We're late to the game." [Emphasis added]
I've always known that the U of C has been late to the game, what with the Uncommon, the Core, etc., but it is good to see that we can play in the game without changing what makes UChicago, UChicago.