April 5, 2002
"U.S. News and World Report" released its annual rankings of graduate and professional school programs today. I always have a mixed reaction to these rankings. In my mind, they rarely reflect what is truly important in the educational experience such as student learning, student satisfaction, and the value and quality of the educational experience.
Instead, the rankings are mainly based on input measures of quality (e.g. test scores, GPAs) that reflect student achievement prior to their college experience or rely on rankings from peer institutions whose administrators may not really be familiar with a particular campus. Moreover, the actual differences between schools ranked 10 or more places apart are often small. Yet their numerical ranking can create an impression of large differences in quality.
Still, despite their obvious shortcomings, these rankings can't be ignored because they are carefully followed by prospective students, parents, alumni and other groups important to the university. While it's always good to be ranked higher, I never get too enthusiastic or depressed by the rankings.
So how did we do this year? Well, the magazine ranks Tulane's A.B. Freeman School of Business 39th in the nation, up from the 45th spot it held last year. Tulane's Law School is ranked 43rd in the nation compared to last year's ranking of 40th. This year no law schools were ranked 41st or 42nd because of numerous ties at the 40th position. Tulane's Environmental Law program is ranked 7th in the nation compared to the 6th position it held last year. I was pleased that Tulane's Law School was also included on a list of schools that have the most racially diverse student bodies among law schools in the country.
Despite my reservations about the validity of these rankings, I am happy that our Business and Law Schools continue to be nationally recognized in this manner.
Have a highly ranked weekend,
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