To the editor:
Kansas University Provost David Shulenburger's concern that the debate over teaching evolution in Kansas schools contributed to the university's drop in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings confirms how faulty the magazine's ratings are. It also shows how misguided Strong Hall officials are in their obsession to have KU ranked among the nation's top 25 universities.
Anyone following the evolution controversy knows that KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway and many faculty members have vigorously resisted efforts to de-emphasize evolution in Kansas classrooms.
Shulenburger, however, fears that the anti-Darwin crusade has tarnished KU, leading to a decline in the peer ratings that constitute 35 percent of the U.S. News score.
If the provost is right, it means that some people in other colleges know little about KU or its role in the evolution issue, yet feel qualified to rank KU among other universities.
Ironically, while KU leaders have criticized creation science and intelligent design as anti-intellectual, they have apparently embraced the bogus social science of the U.S. News rankings. I doubt that any KU sociologist would endorse the magazine's methodology as anything more than uninformed opinion based on inherently flawed and biased data.
Unfortunately, Hemenway has staked his reputation on improving KU's national image - a foolish priority because the incredible diversity and varying missions of the nation's universities make meaningful comparisons impossible. Rah-rah over being No. 1 is great for sports; it's silly public relations as regards academic quality.
David S. Awbrey,