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Opinion

Opinion

Academic standing

Kansas University needs to be as concerned about its academic reputation as it is about its athletic win-loss record.

October 2, 2011

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Athletics aren’t the only thing that matters when it comes to conference realignments — not to mention the overall reputation of a university.

As the recent conference realignment drama unfolded, Kansas University sports fans heard discussions about topics that don’t come up often around the grills and coolers of a football tailgate — including KU’s membership in the elite Association of American Universities and the amount of money the school receives from the federal government for its research activity.

The Big 12 Conference appears to be reasonably stable for the moment, but if KU needs to market itself to other conferences someday, AAU membership should be one of its major selling points. Only the University of Texas, the University of Missouri and Iowa State University can claim that distinction among current Big 12 schools. And, according to media reports, conferences such as the Big 10 Conference and the Pacific 12 Conference generally look favorably on institutions with high academic standing as they seek to expand.

Fans who did a little research on where KU might land if the Big 12 imploded could have quickly discovered that while KU’s continued membership in the AAU is an important factor, it can’t be taken for granted. That’s not news to KU leaders, who, rightfully, started pointing out as early as last fall that KU doesn’t compare well with its fellow AAU schools and began devising plans to rectify the issue. The University of Nebraska was voted out of the AAU earlier this year, and Syracuse University left voluntarily rather than face a similar vote.

“I do not intend for KU to face a similar challenge,” KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little wrote to faculty and staff in May, after the two universities were removed.

She knows that losing AAU membership would mean far more than just weaker basketball and football opponents and lost athletic revenue. AAU membership, in addition to being a major point of pride for the university, can make a difference in the quality of people who apply for top leadership and faculty positions.

It’s important that KU’s efforts to raise its scholarly profile are successful and are taken seriously by KU leaders and faculty — both on Mount Oread and at KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan. — as well as Kansas legislators and the Kansas Board of Regents. If KU loses its AAU membership, winding up in a mid-major athletic conference might be the least of its worries.

Comments

grigori 2 years, 6 months ago

Someday I hope to meet a man or woman named Oread. I would wine and dine them, treat them real nice, and with their consent... I would mount Oread.

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blindrabbit 2 years, 6 months ago

Please add ", and" between "McConnell" and "the" in my prior post, although thinking about it I'm not sure it makes any difference.

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blindrabbit 2 years, 6 months ago

During Hemenway's years he purported to be taking the university to higher academic standing. In reality KU headed in the opposite direction. I guess we cannot continue to blame him and his policies forever, the new administration needs to continue to restore our prior reputation. I guess this is what we got by hiring a "higher educator" from the State of Kentucky, home of The Creation Museum, Living Noah's Ark and smiley/slimy Mitch McConnell the paragon of citizen inbreeding.

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mustrun80 2 years, 6 months ago

I'm not sure how "Elite" AAU membership is if Iowa State is one of only 3 schools in the Big XII to have it.

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parrothead8 2 years, 6 months ago

If only donors got as excited about giving money to academic programs as they do to football and basketball programs.

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billybob1 2 years, 6 months ago

Academics at KU is as good as the KU football team.

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Bob Forer 2 years, 6 months ago

"Kansas University needs to be as concerned about its academic reputation as it is about its athletic win-loss record."

WRONG. Why should academics merely aspire to be on equal footing with athletics? On the contrary, academics at any university should be paramount.

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Peter Macfarlane 2 years, 6 months ago

Gee, how about that: Academics does count for something after all in post-secondary education. Imagine that!

And here I thought the only reason for post-secondary or secondary schools to exist was to satisfy aging couch-potato jocks and those wishing to relive their college or high school years.

Maybe all that book work that students do really does pay off after all.

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 6 months ago

What's the problem with Iowa State? Good conference member, in fact in sports the ISU football team arrow is going up.

Whether Big 8, or Big 12 Iowa State floods KC with fans for the hoops tourney. Compare this with Texas.

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ashmole 2 years, 6 months ago

I'm not sure how proud I am to be in any club with Iowa State, whether AAU or Big XII. Folks in Ames are probably thinking the same thing about KU . . .

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 6 months ago

"The Big 12 Conference appears to be reasonably stable for the moment, but if KU needs to market itself to other conferences someday, AAU membership should be one of its major selling points. Only the University of Texas, the University of Missouri and Iowa State University can claim that distinction among current Big 12 schools."

Then this later: "...while KU’s continued membership in the AAU is an important factor, it can’t be taken for granted." And: "If KU loses its AAU membership, winding up in a mid-major athletic conference might be the least of its worries."

What's wrong with this picture?

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