Gene Anderson, Associate Dean for Degree Programs at Michigan’s Ross School of Business provides a thoughtful, measured, realistic perspective on the many b-school rankings and the influence they have on Ross’ policies in "Gauging success with imperfect but important rankings" in the Monroe St. Journal. The article is a worthwhile read and frankly is like a breath of fresh air after some of the anti-rankings diatribes, but here are a few key points:
- "Rankings are important to prospective students and faculty, recruiters, alumni, corporate sponsors, university administrators, and many other important constituencies." School’s can’t and shouldn’t ignore rankings.
- "Our ultimate success, however, really depends on how well we implement the roadmap that Dean Dolan has provided with his vision of the school’s future." Ross sets it’s direction first according to its values and priorities.
- "Going forward, we’ll continue to work to improve our rankings wherever and whenever it makes sense to do so. … Not at the expense of changing our philosophy and direction in any fundamental way, or of violating our own policies or integrity, but by doing what we can to maximize our position in each particular poll while staying within our game."
- "So, while we will continue to pay attention to rankings … it is vital that we continue to follow our own beliefs about what constitutes MBA program quality."
Balance is key. Ross sets its course. Then it uses the information in the rankings as in imperfect, but worthwhile measure of quality, as a source of valuable feedback from different stakeholders, and as a springboard for improvement. It doesn’t pretend the rankings are the source of all evil or don’t exist. And it also doesn’t intend to slavishly jump at each burp in the rankings.
Dean Anderson outlines a healthy approach to the rankings for all disciplines. It would be a more palatable approach if applicants viewed the rankings as imperfect tools and not as infallible, universal measures of educational quality.