Archive for Friday, September 27, 2002

Inner security

September 27, 2002

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A KU law professor expresses the kind of pride and confidence more should have about Kansas University and where it "ranks."

Kansas University needs a lot more faculty members and salespeople like Mike Hoeflich, the former dean of the KU law school, who has stepped aside in favor of a full-time professorship.

In his most recent regular column for the Journal-World Opinion pages, Hoeflich touches on various systems that bestow alleged rankings on colleges and universities. He points out that such rankings don't tell the full story of any school and that a reputation goes far deeper than some rating chart.

Hoeflich remarks that he "read with great fascination (recently) the brouhaha caused by the 'downgrading' of KU by one survey from 39th 'best' public university to 41st best." Then he reflects on top-flight people he knows and works with on Mount Oread and says he has "realized that superficial numerical ranking of universities absolutely missed the point. And those who put their faith in rankings do as well."

The value of a school, he adds, lies in the students, the staff, the faculty and even the administrators. The former dean says that when he was an undergraduate at Haverford, such people "showed me the richness of a world I had hardly glimpsed before I arrived. They introduced me to the life of the mind."

Hoeflich says: "I believe that if one were to ask students about what is most valuable to them about KU, it would not be whether we are ranked 25th, 35th or 55th. At least I hope so. I hope that they'll answer that it's people they known, friendships they've made, the things they've learned."

One needn't conduct an extensive survey to recognize that is how the vast majority of KU graduates and former students evaluate the school, good or bad. The fact that a respected faculty member and ex-dean is so up front about the school speaks volumes for KU and the people "up there."

"It is all the myriad good things about KU that makes this place wonderful and those are what we should concentrate on and make even better and not worry too much what rank some silly magazine says we occupy."

That message should be taken to heart not only by others on the faculty and staff at KU but by people, such as legislators, who have the responsibility to keep KU a major league school in all respects. It's the kind of pride and confidence that needs to be transmitted constantly to the "outside world" so the university is "sold" not on the basis of its latest ranking in some subjective poll but on the quality and depth of experiences one can gain there and its importance to the welfare of the state.

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