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September 25, 2000 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-09-25

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-NATION WORLD

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Private college official ousted after ranking drops

JENEVA. N.Y. (AP) - Small, private U.S.
colleges that rely on tuition for survival ignore
at their peril the guidebooks and magazine lists
cateritg to parents and students zealously seek-
ing the perfect school.
So when Hobart and William Smith Col-
Oges, a liberal-arts campus on the leafy slopes
above this Finger Lakes town, took a tumble in
this month's U.S. News & World Report rank-
iegs of America's best colleges, retribution was
swift.
Sociology Prof. Sheila Bennett was ousted
as senior vice president of the men's and
women's colleges. She had failed to submit
fresh data that the magazine uses each year in

assessing the academic merits of 1,400-plus
schools nationwide.
"I don't believe this was intentional - it
probably was just an administrative oversight,"
said Prof. Jack Harris, the faculty's presiding
officer.
The episode brings into focus the enortous
competitive pressures universities encounter in
luring students and teachers, particularly pri-
vate institutions with small endowments that
need to flesh out their budgets with high tuition
fees.
"In the absence of other measures of reputa-
tion, these rankings and a series of other guide-
books can have considerable import," Harris

said. "The U.S. News survey is one of the most
public demonstrations of our quality and repu-
tation, whether you buy into it or not."
A year's stay at Hobart and William Smith
costs S25,200, plus S6,800 for room and board.-
Hobart, a men's college, was founded in 1822
and William Smith was started for women in
1908. Their 1,800 undergraduates share facul-
ty, classrooms and an 180-acre campus but
each has its own dean, admissions office and
athletic programs and awards its own degrees.
Only 84 schools failed to return survey data
to U.S. News this year, some for philosophical
reasons, the magazine said. Reed College in
Portland, Ore., has refused to participate since

1995, saying it finds the survey too simplistic.
Bennett came to upstate New York from
Ertory University in 1990 as provost and facul-
ty dean. She stepped down from those posts
this spring amid criticism of her management
style, taking a one-year appointment in charge
of off-campus and international programs.
One of her duties was to supply U.S. News
with such statistics as graduation rates, finan-
cial and faculty resources and alumni dona-
tions.
The magazine said it made repeated calls
and sent a certified letter but ended up using
data reported in previous years. That ended the
school's longtime inclusion in the mnagazine's

"second tier" of liberal arts colleges, dropping
it to a "third tier" of schools ranked from No.
81 to No. 120.
Bennett, who retained her faculty job,
refused to be interviewed. The Chronicle of
Higher Education said she resigned her execu-
tive post at school President Mark Gearan's
request soon after the U.S. News rankings
came out.
Gearan would not say if the resignation was
tied to the magazine poll. But he stressed that
"but for the regrettable circumstances of U.S.
News not having received the information,-
there would have been no change" in the
school's ranking.

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