Visiting Prof Chides U.S. World Report

To the Editors:

I was pleased to read that Oberlin students largely disregard the U.S. News and World Report college rankings. Frankly, the rankings always seemed rather vacuous to me; the ranking process misses the mark in terms of understanding education. While learning is a process that often begins collectively for both pedagogical and economic reasons, it always ends with the individual. Comprehension and insight take place ultimately in the intimacy of a single person’s mind. Even if the U.S. News and World Report hopes to measure the probability of getting a good education at a college, provides, in the end, a pointless measurement. The composite measure of “rank” tells prospective students and their parents, as well as current students, virtually nothing at all about the quality of their education. Whether or not learning takes place is heavily dependent on the energy of faculty and students within a very particular environment and often boils down to a set of individual commitments to education.
Having done my undergraduate years at Stanford University, I can assure you that having a small student-faculty ratio, a vast endowment, an internationally prominent faculty, enormous libraries, multi-million dollar laboratories and computing facilities, and alumni of brilliance, fame and power, all amount to absolutely nothing if faculty members have no syllabi ready for the first day of classes and if students fail to read their books.
Although I have been here only about two months, I can say with some certainty that Oberlin faculty members and students prepare, think and work with seriousness and dedication. No amount of money, technology or “rank”
can substitute for such a foundation.

– Richard Milton Juang
Visiting Instructor and Scholar in Residence
Department of English

October 4
October 11

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