Many of you are aware that in the past week some law schools have announced that they will no longer participate in the U.S. News rankings. After conferring with University leaders and with some members of our faculty, our administrative team, and our alumni community, I have decided that we will continue to furnish information to U.S. News.
My past practice has been to avoid direct, public comment on the U.S. News ranking. The ranking is not our guide, and I prefer to shine a light on the substantive attributes that make our Law School the home of the most intellectually ambitious faculty and the most powerful legal education.
Most of the data we supply to U.S. News are already public, and the rest is information we have no reason to withhold. The rankings of academic institutions clearly have a readership, and we wish to prevent the use of inaccurate information.
Fundamentally, a ranking of schools is an opinion. A ranking is the product of innumerable and contestable design choices. As our University is dedicated to the free expression of ideas and to questioning viewpoints, our aim is not to suppress opinions. Rather, we should encourage prospective students to apply critical thinking and reach their own conclusions about what value the rankings add.
My own belief is that the essential features of the University of Chicago Law School are not, and perhaps cannot be, captured in any ranking. What makes the Law School distinctive is its unabashed enthusiasm for the life of the mind—the conviction that ideas matter, that they are worth discussing, and that a single viewpoint or style of thought should not be imposed. Instead, our faculty expose students to contrasting views, confident in students’ abilities to think critically and choose their own paths. Our curriculum reflects a belief in generalist education and interdisciplinarity, and students learn from a faculty dedicated to teaching and serious inquiry. Our faculty produce path-breaking ideas about the most important questions of law and legal institutions through intense inquiry, a multiplicity of approaches, and dialogue with leading practitioners.
Our commitment to the core missions of excellence in scholarship and teaching has made our Law School eminent, and I am confident our commitment will make it ever more so in the future.
I hope that you enjoy a restful Thanksgiving, and I look forward to our returning to learning next week.