Bravo to President Eisgruber ’83 for his fine essay, “The Rankings Mishegoss” (President’s Page, November issue). It would have been so easy to simply bask in the glow of Princeton being No. 1 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings once again. But he bluntly recognizes that the survey, like so many other similar reports, is flawed.
The U.S. News methodology includes evaluation of the following weighted factors: retention of freshmen and students overall, 20 percent; faculty resources, 20 percent; student selectivity, 15 percent; financial resources, 10 percent; graduation rate performance, 7.5 percent; and alumni giving rate, 5 percent. Fair enough.
It would have been so easy to simply bask in the glow of Princeton being No. 1. … But he bluntly recognizes that the survey, like so many other similar reports, is flawed.
But the most significant weight in the ranking formula goes to the opinions of those in a position to judge a school’s undergraduate academic excellence (a whopping 22.5 percent). According to the magazine, the academic peer assessment survey allows top academics — presidents, provosts, and deans of admissions — to account for intangibles at peer institutions such as faculty dedication to teaching. Critics argue this last, heavily weighted factor is too subjective and severely skews the survey results.
Of course I’m proud of Princeton’s No. 1 ranking in this highly regarded national survey. I’m sure all Princetonians join in applauding our alma mater for this magnificent recognition. But, frankly, I’m inclined to keep my #1 foam finger in retirement until Princeton breaks into the top 10 of Playboy magazine’s annual survey of the top “party” schools in the nation. That just might be a long wait.