Reaching for the Brass Ring - The U.S. News & World Report Rankings and Competition

Reaching for the Brass Ring - The U.S. News & World Report Rankings and Competition

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Reaching for the Brass Ring: The U.S. News & World Report Rankings and Competition Ehrenberg, Ronald G. The Review of Higher Education, Volume 26, Number 2, Winter 2003, pp. 145-162 (Article) Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press DOI: 10.1353/rhe.2002.0032 For additional information about this article Access Provided by University of Kentucky at 01/10/11 4:06AM GMT http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/rhe/summary/v026/26.2ehrenberg.html
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The Review of Higher Education Winter 2002, Volume 26, No. 2, pp. 145–162 Copyright © 2002 Association for the Study of Higher Education All Rights Reserved (ISSN 0162-5748) Reaching for the Brass Ring: The U.S. News & World Report Rankings and Competition Ronald G. Ehrenberg The American system of higher education is the envy of the rest of the world. A mixed system of over 3,600 public and private institutions, it is noted for its competitiveness. An institution’s geographical location, selec- tivity, size, whether it is church related, the degrees that it offers, and the range of its curriculum, determine the specific institutions that are its com- petitors. Against these competitors, institutions vie in a variety of ways— for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, for faculty members, for research dollars, for state and federal appropriations, for private philan- RONALD G. EHRENBERG is the Irving M. Ives Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Economics at Cornell University and Director of the Cornell Higher Education Re- search Institute (CHERI). He presented an earlier version of this paper at the Macalester Forum on Higher Education on “Comparative Advantage and Common Purpose in Higher Education, Macalester College, June 2001. He expresses appreciation to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Atlantic Philanthropies (USA) Inc. for their support of CHERI, to Michael McPherson, and to two reviewers for their comments. His most recent book is Tuition Ris- ing: Why College Costs So Much (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002). His cur- rent research interests focus on public higher education, higher education governance, the growing cost and importance of science to universities, and the implications of the growing dispersion of resources across academic institutions within both the public and private higher educational sectors as well as between the two sectors. Address queries to him at Cornell University, 256 Ives Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-3901; telephone (607) 255-3026; fax: (607) 255- 4496; e-mail: rge2@cornell.edu.
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146 T HE R EVIEW OF H IGHER E DUCATION W INTER 2002 thropy, and for other sources of revenues such as those generated by dis- tance-learning activities and the commercialization of faculty members’ re- search. Institutions may have different competitors along different dimensions. For example, Cornell University competes directly with a much smaller number of institutions for students than it does for faculty.
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Reaching for the Brass Ring - The U.S. News & World Report Rankings and Competition

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