U.S. News and World Report: where we stand

For the sixth consecutive year, Reed has refused to return the U.S. News and World Report survey for the magazine's annual best colleges issue and guidebook. Although the college has asked to be dropped from the rankings, the magazine continues to collect data from other sources and merely notes N/A when no information is available.

In 1995, when Reed was the lone holdout in the national liberal arts schools category, the magazine expressed an intention to sue the college but instead merely targeted Reed for censorious treatment. To date only two other small colleges have refused to participate, although privately many college presidents have indicated a strong desire to do so.

Reed's position is that the rankings do a real disservice to prospective students and their families by creating a numerical stew that, although filling, has little or no nutritional value. Reed, for example, placed in the second tier this year, even though its academic reputation is greater that half of the 50 schools in the first tier. In addition, average SATs of Reed's entering class last year were significantly higher than three quarters of the first-tier schools.

Reed continues to receive favorable attention for its stance on the rankings: the September issue of the Washington Monthly ran a stinging analysis of the U.S. News rankings ("Playing with Numbers: How U.S. News Mismeasures Higher Education and What We Can Do About It") that included special mention of Reed, and earlier this year Reed president Steven Koblik participated in a College Board-sponsored colloquium on "Who is Managing Your Institutional Image-Your Institution or U.S. News and World Report?"

"The main problem that most institutions face is that they themselves no longer have a very clear sense of themselves or their missions," said Koblik. "These colleges find themselves in a difficult context: rankings become a substitute measurement-especially for their boards, alumni, and prospective students.

"When rankings become important for self-measurement, management of your image becomes more driven by external criteria," said Koblik. "Brand-name, winner-take-all strategies are coming to dominate the field, and the real question is: who benefits from this?" The college also declines to return surveys to Money magazine and Yahoo Internet Life for their annual rankings.

Biology building changes

A model of the new biology building
Work is proceeding on the renovation, expansion, and up-dating of the biology building. A continuation of the collegewide effort to improve laboratory science facilities, the project began in May and is expected to end in August 2001.

The first tower falls
Photos by Peter Russell
Plans for the building, originally constructed in 1959, include expanded faculty and student research laboratories, reconfigured offices and laboratories to maximize interaction between faculty and students, increased office space for the growing number of thesis students and faculty members, and extensive data lines to facilitate further integration of computing into research and teaching.

For photos and updates on the construction, visit the Reed web site at http://www.reed.edu/ resources/construction/.

Shade screen falling down

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