Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Gordon Smith (Wisconsin en route to BYU) presents the evidence. Dean Randall at Alabama fares worst. Since all the interested parties know about U.S. News, there really should be a simple rule of thumb here: if your school fares well in its overall U.S. News nonsense number, make no comment; if U.S. News has done something especially creative in screwing over your school, make a brief explanatory comment.
Here's hoping this year's members of the Decanal Hypocrisy Hall of Fame will follow the advice!
UPDATE: Dean Randall is defended by a former faculty member at Alabama, who makes the good point that he did not sign the LSAC letter denouncing rankings. For those who may not recall "ancient" U.S. News history, Alabama first appeared in the top 50 in 1999, which was the year that U.S. News made the single biggest change in its methodology: it started adjusting expenditures for differences in cost-of-living, which was also the year they stopped printing the expenditures rank in the magazine. That year Alabama and Baylor, among others, jumped into the US News top 50, and schools like Fordham tumbled, since the latter were no longer being rewarded for having to spend more to run a law school in New York and the latter were no longer being penalized for the fact that it is cheaper to run a law school in Waco or Tuscaloosa. Since, as Professor Stake has shown, reputation scores tend to follow overall U.S. News rank--the "echo chamber" effect on which we have remarked previously--Alabama has seen a gradual upward trend in its reputational scores.