Ranking Systems to Prioritize the Civic Mission of Higher Education

A university’s ascent or fall within the rankings are newsworthy developments. A rise in rankings leads universities to promote the ranking and their placement. Incoming students make important life decisions about where to attend, based on often obscure—or even arbitrary—methodologies. But where does the civic mission of higher education fall when it comes to judging value in a ranking system? Do these ranking systems recognize or ignore the societal role of universities in engaging communities, tackling social issues, and developing relevant research?

Two leaders in the Talloires Network, an international association of institutions committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education, argue in a recent op-ed that it’s time for community engagement to play a vital role in determining how universities are ranked. The authors, Anthony Monaco, president of Tufts University, and Cheryl De La Rey, principal at the University of Pretoria, serve as chair and vice-chair of the network, respectively.

Lorlene Hoyt, director of research and programs of the Talloires Network, has participated in Kettering’s ongoing research exchanges with college presidents.