|Before we get into the topic of this week’s newsletter, we would like to send our thoughts and prayers to those in Florida, and elsewhere, who are dealing with the devastation left by Hurricane Ian.|
In last week’s newsletter we celebrated Carolina remaining in the #5 spot of US News and World Report rankings for public universities. We also noted that this year Carolina is tied with the University of Florida. Several of you contacted us and asked for information on how Florida was able to move so far up the ranking so quickly. (Between 2015 and 2022 the University of Florida has climbed 20 spots and leapfrogged its way into the top 10.) We looked into this further and found a post that details what happened.
To summarize the post, the University of Florida trustees were tired of people dissing their alma matter and decided to do something about it. They laser focused on the US News and World Report metrics and worked to get Florida in the top 10 public university in the country. Achieving this goal was the critical criteria used to recruit a new university president in 2003. They also engaged then Governor Rick Scott and the state legislature to get the funding to make the goal a reality. Below is an excerpt from the detailed post. You can follow this link to read the full analysis.
|“In his efforts to cement his university’s place in the rankings, Machen reached far beyond Gainesville. He worked with then-Governor Rick Scott to get the state to pass a funding scheme called Preeminence, which rewarded public colleges that did best on some of the metrics deemed important by U.S. News. For the University of Florida, Preeminence created the kind of virtuous circle that such money often begets. It helped the university ascend the rankings, which in turn brought in more applicants, more approval from lawmakers, and more money, which administrators could use to keep climbing.|
In return, Machen supported Scott’s launch of performance-based funding for Florida universities — a system that also advantaged the flagship. But the partial alignment of state purse strings with U.S. News metrics has come at a cost. Critics say these developments have driven an even bigger wedge between the state’s four-year colleges, making richer institutions richer, and depriving less-resourced institutions of much-needed funds.
UF’s funds went to hiring not only more faculty members, but stars in their fields, people who would sharpen the research attributable to the University of Florida, bolster the university’s national reputation, and bring in big, prestigious federal research grants. …”
|Florida trustees successfully used their legislative connections to fund the university’s move up the US News and World Report rankings. With the legislature’s involvement, other state universities received support and also rose. Did their successes come with a price? The state funding was tied to the recipient universities being required to implement a new metrics program tied to the rankings. The program was called Preeminence. This program place strict limitations on how the state funds could be used. Given the headlines about governance overreach in Florida today, could this have been also another big opening for legislators to become more involved in Florida university day-to-day operations?|
|Our very own Dr. Holden Thorp published a piece entitled The Charade of Political Neutralityin the Chronicle of Higher Education. He encourages college leaders to speak out on the issues of the day and warns that “colleges are in the middle of the culture wars whether they like it or not”. H goes on to say “…It’s ironic that the same folks advocating for ‘viewpoint diversity’ are simultaneously muzzling their presidents.” A great read.|
|Colleges Must Stop Trying to Appease the Right is a thought-provoking piece by Silke-Maria Weineck that was also published in the Chronicle of Higher Education. In it, the author warns that appeasement…” indulges as legitimate the sort of orchestrated, bad-faith fury conservatives are currently weaponizing against public schools and public libraries, which are,…, an intrinsic and ideally constitutive part of pluralist liberal democracy,” Check it out.|
|UNC Board of Governors skips national search, names David Crabtree permanent CEO of PBS NC “David Crabtree, former long-time reporter and anchor at WRAL, was made CEO of PBS NC Thursday after a unanimous vote by the UNC Board of Governors. Crabtree has served as interim leader of the organization for the past five months. The board broke precedent in hiring Crabtree, who will make $275,000 per year in his new role, by not conducting a national candidate search.”|