Redefining Success on a University Campus

A new report contends that membership in the Association of American Universities is not the only way to measure the success of top universities

UCR Sign and Bell tower

As part of the UC system, the minimum wage for UCR workers — both direct and service contract employees — will be raised to $15 an hour over the next three years.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — The New America Foundation has issued a report that suggests the nation may want to redefine the way success is measured on college campuses.

Building a New AAU: The Case for Redefining Higher Education creates an alternative list of top universities, a competing list to the Association of American Universities, a select group of 62 universities typically considered the cream of the crop in the nation, that includes such institutions as UC Berkeley, Harvard University, and the University of Virginia.

UC Riverside has not been accepted into the AAU. But on the New America Foundation list, UC Riverside is on the list at #45 of 82 schools. The major difference between the two measurements is that the New America Foundation rewards universities that educate large numbers of students from low income families.

Kevin Carey, director of the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation, argues that it is time for the nation to focus less on prestige, selectivity and expense. “This new AAU should retain its traditional focus on research, which remains vital to the national interest,” said Carey. “But it should take a very different approach to undergraduate education, rewarding institutions that are committed to keeping college accessible, affordable and focused on student success.”

The New America Foundation report contains a list of universities based on the following factors:

  • The number of faculty who are members of the National Academies
  • The number of faculty who have earned various awards of scholarly distinction
  • The number of postdoctoral fellowships
  • Total research funding
  • Total federal research funding
  • The number of doctorates awarded
  • The number of bachelor’s degrees awarded
  • The undergraduate admissions rate, with colleges penalized for rejecting large numbers of students
  • The number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to minority students
  • The number of students receiving Pell Grants
  • The new price for low-income students”
Two UCR Students

UCR was recently named the #1 college campus in America by TIME magazine.

AAU President Hunter Rawlings responded that the report “is deeply flawed” and misunderstands the AAU’s current membership. “Public universities comprise the majority of AAU members,” Rawlings said, and they have “a broad range of undergraduate student bodies.”

UC Riverside was recently named the #1 college campus in America by TIME magazine when graduation rates, accessibility as measured by Pell grants, and affordability are all weighted equally.  TIME ranked campuses across the country in advance of the Obama Administration’s proposed college rating system slated to be released this fall.

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