Archive for Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Silly goal

September 7, 2005


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,

Springfield, Mo.


craigers 12 years, 9 months ago

Wow, that was a very well written letter.

laughingatallofu 12 years, 9 months ago

Strong Hall is doing what EVERYBODY does: emphasize the good news and minimize the bad news. The provost is merely doing what EVERYBODY does: hope that people won't remember what was promised (i.e., a top 25 academic ranking, or whatever) and try to "spin" the story (in this case, by criticizing the methodology of the US News & World Report survey) to make people feel better about bad news.

No surprises here.

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 9 months ago

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