The undersigned presidents agree that prospective students benefit from having as complete information as possible in making their college choices.

At the same time, we are concerned about the inevitable biases in any single ranking formula, about the admissions frenzy, and the way in which rankings can contribute to that frenzy and to a false sense that educational success or fit can be ranked in a single numerical list.

Since college and ranking agencies should maintain a degree of distance to ensure objectivity, from now on data we make available to college guides will be made public via our websites rather than be distributed exclusively to a single entity. Doing so is true to our educational mission and will allow interested parties to use this information for their own benefit. If, for example, class size is their focus, they will have that information. If it is the graduation rate, that will be easy to find. We welcome suggestions for other information we might also provide publicly.

While we respect our colleagues who have announced that their schools will no longer respond to a survey on the merits of peer institutions, we believe that such judgments, if well informed, can usefully complement objective markers, since surely some institutions perform above their objective measures, others below. Still, no one should feel obligated to fill out reputational surveys, and anyone who chooses to should only do so for those institutions on which they have grounds for judgment.

We commit not to mention U.S. News or similar rankings in any of our new publications, since such lists mislead the public into thinking that the complexities of American higher education can be reduced to one number.

Finally, we encourage all colleges and universities to participate in an effort to determine how information about our schools might be improved. As for rankings, we recognize that no degree of protest will make them disappear, and hope, therefore, that further discussion will help shape them in ways that will press us to move in ever more socially and educationally useful directions.

Anthony Marx, Amherst College
Elaine Hansen, Bates College
Barry Mills, Bowdoin College
Nancy Vickers, Bryn Mawr College
Robert Oden, Carleton College
William D. Adams, Colby College
Rebecca Chopp, Colgate University
Thomas W. Ross, Davidson College
Russell Osgood, Grinnell College
Joan Hinde Stewart, Hamilton College
Stephen Emerson, Haverford College
Ronald Liebowitz, Middlebury College
David Oxtoby, Pomona College
Alfred Bloom, Swarthmore College
James Jones, Trinity College
Catharine Hill, Vassar College
Kenneth Ruscio, Washington and Lee University
Kim Bottomly, Wellesley College
Michael Roth, Wesleyan University
 Morton Schapiro, Williams College


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