SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


One community college's triumph
Scripps Howard News Service


August 22, 2007
Wednesday PM

America's colleges and universities are irritated that various outfits, most especially U.S. News & World Report, have the temerity to rank them. Without saying so directly, the admissions directors think prospective students and their parents are too thick to make sense of the rankings and should listen to experts who can interpret the institutions' intangibles, people like the admissions directors.

So far, 62 colleges have signed onto an anti-ranking campaign intended to deny U.S. News the data it needs to judge the schools. The campaign likely won't work unless the top-ranked schools sign on, which as long as they are top-ranked they are unlikely to do. But who knows? Someday they may, and that will create opportunity for some lesser-known institutions of higher learning.

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US News and World Reports College Rankings
Artist Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

To the chancellor, dean of the faculty and distinguished department heads:

I needn't remind you that Cream Cheese Community College can be a tough sell.

First off, there's that name, but after the tornado we were in no position to turn down dairy-industry money, not with what was left of the campus scattered over four counties.

There's that awful nickname, the Curds, and the cheer, "Curds! Curds! Whey! Whey!" It could have been worse. The pig-manure-lagoon people are looking to improve their image. (Although we might have the development office see what kind of money they have in mind.)

Our location here in Ebola, Kansas, is hardly an attraction, especially since the bridge washed out and the Citgo minimart closed. We wouldn't have had a freshman class at all last year if the buses taking those high-schoolers to the band competition hadn't broken down on the interstate.

I think the parents accusing us of holding the kids for ransom was ugly and unnecessary, but at least for a semester we had a music department. Since the FBI paid us a visit, I don't think we can risk sabotaging a band bus again, although I'll sure miss hearing the Michigan fight song 20 times a day.

However, we have a solution. Perhaps you've read that most of the country's colleges and universities have withdrawn from the U.S. News & World Report rankings. Frankly, we never had much luck with U.S. News. Our last information packet got returned to us with a note saying, "Nice try. How dumb do you guys over at Newsweek think we are?"

That crack about a "cow college" did sting a little bit, and I'm glad Ol' Bessie didn't hear it because I swear that Guernsey understands English.

With some of our toughest competition out of the contest, I decided to have another try at U.S. News. Now perhaps in putting our best foot forward, I cut a few corners but nothing the administration and faculty can't back me up on.

I thought that explaining that our Department of Communications teaches inmate on work-release from the county jail how to sew U.S. mailbags would be burdening the magazine with more detail than it needed.

And about those Nobel-prize winners on our faculty. We have a number of teachers who won all kinds of blue ribbons in 4-H and the shop class has a shelf full of trophies from tractor pulls, and if those aren't noble prizes I don't know what is.

What counts most with U.S. News is how other universities rate you. When Nadine and I took our RV tour of major colleges this summer, I took the opportunity at each stop to load up on stationery. I do believe I do the signature of Drew Gilpin Faust -- she's the president of Harvard -- better than she does herself.

Now I might have stepped over the line here, but the latest rankings make it worth it.

1. Princeton

2. Harvard

3. Cream Cheese Community College

Next year, Number One! Go Curds!

Respectfully submitted,

Haskins W. Silage
Dean of Admissions


Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)
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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska