As reported yesterday by EphBlog (here and here), Williams is #1 in the latest U.S. News and World Report college rankings. Comments:


1) Jeff Zeeman on why we rule the rankings.

What has kept Williams at the top for five years is clearly the faculty hiring binge that has reduced both the faculty-student ratio and class sizes. I do wonder how the alumni giving is calculated, if US News used Williams’ self-reported number, Williams would be even more dominant in these rankings.

Perhaps. It would be interesting if someone (David Nickerson?) were to dive into the details of the methodology and explain to us just what is going on. Besides considering the weights placed on individual items, you need to look at the range of values among the top schools. Are you an undergraduate looking for a great thesis topic? Do for liberal arts college what this professor did for law schools. Fascinating stuff.

2) Assuming the Jeff is correct and that class size is a big reason for Williams dominance, my plan to end all lectures can only help matters.

3) There was some discussion that Williams (and other elite schools) were going to at least stop bragging about their U.S. News performance.

After the Annapolis Group meeting, Williams decided it is “going to do even less in referring to the rankings,” said Jim Kolesar, a spokesman for the college. Williams will stop mentioning the survey results in its sports information and admissions brochures, he said. The school hasn’t decided whether to sign the protest letter.

Was the ranking mentioned explicitly in “brochures” in the past? Not that I recall, but details are welcome. Is this a brochure? Just asking! Condolences to Dick Quinn.

4) I have asked jim Trapp ’76, Director of Annual Giving, about why US News has the Williams alumni giving rate at 58% when we class agents are told that it is more like 63%. That is a big difference. He is looking into it.

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