Good news! Our stateâ€™s flagship school, The University of Connecticut, has been ranked the 18th top public university in a U.S. News & World Report list released Tuesday.
â€śThis is a reflection of our core academic strength and UConnâ€™s exceptional faculty, staff, students and leaders - and state investment over many years,â€ť President Susan Herbst said in a prepared statement.
We, of course, share her pride in the university but what she said next got us thinking.
The upward trajectory â€“ that is, the schoolâ€™s rise in national rankings - was accomplished, despite ongoing cuts to UConnâ€™s appropriation from the state.
Not that we want state legislators to cut back further in their support for the school but itâ€™s not all about money.
The rankings focus on 15 indicators of academic excellence and student outcomes, including class size, test scores of incoming students and graduation rates. Nowhere in that list do we see state-of-the art building projects, like the schoolâ€™s new $105 million, eight-story dormitory or the $23 million makeover to a dining hall or even a winning sports team.
The goal of expanding the number of students who can attend the school is a good one, hopefully offering more opportunity and more room for local scholars but as Herbst herself has said, the university could slip in national ratings if its ratio of students to faculty increases, so any student growth has to be matched with increases in faculty and staff.
We think thatâ€™s the right emphasis. Weâ€™re pretty sure that top students will continue to be attracted to UConn by its academic reputation, not the coziness of its dorms.