The Baker Orange

Baker named highest-ranked university in Kansas

Story by Sarah Baker, Editor

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Among universities in Kansas, Baker is the highest ranked in the Midwest Universities Regional category in the 2015 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of best colleges. Overall, Baker is ranked 44th in the category.

“I was not surprised,” Director of Public Relations Steve Rottinghaus said. “Traditionally we’re usually the top Kansas university in that category. A lot of it has to do with our reputation.”

Dean of Students Cassy Bailey was pleased by the news of Baker’s high ranking.

“I am so excited that Baker is being recognized for everything that we know it is,” Bailey said. “I am proud to be a member of the Baker community. And mostly I’m happy for our students. That when they graduate their diploma will be from a place that is also recognized.”

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Brian Posler recognizes the ranking as an achievement but has concerns about the methods used in generating the ratings.

“We were pleased that our reputation score was, again, very high among Kansas institutions,” Posler said. “And the overall rankings for us were the highest among the Kansas institutions in our category. But the reputation score is not a good indicator of the quality of institutions.”

U.S. News includes a reputation score, meaning if Harvard had a few bad years, it would still be highly ranked because of its great reputation. Posler said that because the rankings may be biased toward reputation, they are “notoriously poor indicators” of the current quality of the institution.

The rankings also include important members of peer colleges ranking other colleges. Sometimes these evaluators do not know the institution or have only seen advertisements for it, not allowing for a fully informed assessment.

“I am genuinely dissatisfied of that as a component,” Posler said. “That people rank institutions that they don’t know very well. And so the most visible institutions might get higher ratings without it really corresponding with the work that is happening at the institution.”

Posler also said that many universities don’t care about the rankings but still monitor them because it is important to the “prospective students and their families.”

Rottinghaus said Baker always scores high in certain areas such as,alumni giving, student-to-faculty ratio and graduation rates. This year’s ranking, 44, improved from last year’s No. 62 ranking.