Archive for Monday, August 29, 2011

Heard on the Hill: Steam whistle toot is a little longer this year; Washington Monthly mag says KU ranks No. 152 in the country; KUMC adds two new minority health research centers

August 29, 2011


Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• An eagle-eared tipster (do eagles have good ears?) noticed that KU’s beloved steam whistle that signals the end of classes seemed to be tooting just a little bit longer this semester.

And, as I’ve come to expect with awesome Heard on the Hill tipsters, she’s right. The blast is just a couple seconds longer this year.

Lightning fried the whistle’s time clock last spring, so a new one needed to be installed this semester.

The new time clock regulates the whistle just a little differently, hence the two extra seconds of noise. I’m always amazed how folks pick up on even very slight variations on how the whistle blows.

• While we’re all sitting around waiting for the U.S. News and World Report university rankings to come out, here’s a peek at the just-released Washington Monthly rankings.

The Washington Monthly folks got a little fed up with the U.S. News and World Report rankings, and decided to rank schools based on their own criteria, which are a little different than most other university ranking systems.

Their No. 1 overall school, for example, is the University of California at San Diego. Typically Harvard and Yale jostle for the top spot in the U.S. News.

But, anyway, KU comes out as No. 152 overall in these rankings, and No. 86 among public universities.

Of course, the big question is how did they come up with this stuff? They used three broad categories, with a few specific rankings in each category.

The categories are social mobility, research and service. And that’s all they rank universities on.

In the service category, for example, they look at things like the number of students enrolled in ROTC programs, number of alumni serving in the Peace Corps (relative to the size of the school) and total number of service hours performed by students.

I’ve included a link to the magazine’s complete rankings here. There you can get a complete explanation of how they sorted everyone, and you can see all the other schools’ ranks.

• One item I found out while poking around at KU Medical Center for my story over the weekend was the formation of two new centers to improve the health of minority and underserved populations.

Barbara Atkinson, in a message to KUMC faculty, staff and students, announced the formation of the Center for American Indian Community Health and Juntos: Advancing Latino Health. The Latino health center will seek ideas that advance Latino health in Kansas, both in rural and urban areas, and promote education for health care providers, Atkinson wrote. The American Indian community health center, she said, is a result of a $7.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, awarded in July 2010.

A similar center focusing on health in the black community could be formed soon, Atkinson told me.

“Because reducing health disparities has become a major goal of the National Institutes of Health, I believe that KUMC has a unique opportunity to become a national leader in this area,” Atkinson wrote.

• That whistle may be loud, but it can’t be heard as widely as good tips for Heard on the Hill could be. All you have to do is send them to and I’ll take care of the rest.


blindrabbit 6 years, 6 months ago

Regardless of which polls or rankings, the declining standing of KU over the past 10 years, due to the legacy of too many years of Hemenway.

Miles Nease 6 years, 6 months ago

I agree that KU needs to step it up on the academic front. However, any ranking that has Jackson State University among its Top Ten National Universities is seriously flawed.

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