UT withdraws status in education survey because of approach

AddThis

After falling in the Times Higher Education World University Ranking survey for the past six years, the University chose not to participate in last year’s survey. At Monday’s faculty council meeting, classics professor Tom Palaima submitted a multi-part question to University President William Powers Jr. asking why UT opted out of the survey when other public research universities considered peer institutions participated and excelled. UT ranked 15th in the world in 2004, but fell each year to 76th in 2009 and did not participate in 2010. University of California Berkeley ranked 2nd in 2004, fell each year to 39th in 2009 and ranked 8th in 2010. The University of Wisconsin ranked between 55th and 79th from 2004 to 2009 and ranked 43rd in 2010. While addressing the question at the council meeting, Powers said concerns about the survey’s methodology came up after discussions with officials from other universities. He said UT and some schools who eventually participated in the survey initially decided not to do so. “Any survey that takes data and divides it by the number of students, as the U.S. News and World Report does with some financial data, we don’t do well on,” Powers said. “We’re okay if we are going to do poorly on academic rankings, we’ll let the chips fall where they may, but if the methodology is designed against a big state research university we often won’t participate.” He said the Times Higher Education reworked their survey methods and worked with other institutions who eventually decided to participate. He said the Times did not work with UT after it had made its initial decision. “I think with the new methodology it is likely we will participate in this survey next year,” Powers said. Palaima said he submitted the question to address claims by Powers about UT’s status as a world class institution and one of the top in the nation despite struggles with budget cuts and falling rankings. “The reason is to get something on record,” Palaima said. “When there is any kind of critical problem, you do best to sort of enunciate and address the problem.” During Monday’s meeting, the council also unanimously passed a resolution in support of UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa’s letter to Gov. Rick Perry, which outlined disadvantages to allowing concealed carry on campus. The council also passed a resolution affirming the current ban on concealed carry on campus in January and plans to announce that it passed these resolutions at a state Senate hearing today on its bill that would lift the ban. Associate sociology professors Ben Carrington and Mary Rose announced the resolution to the council. Carrington said the resolution is meant as a symbolic step to communicate the sentiment most of the faculty hold. “The chancellor took a risk in writing this letter,” Carrington said. “[The resolution] is us in a sense standing behind him.”