U. needs guidance of new president


My fellow Connecticut resident, Richard Kent, Rutgers College Class of ’72, deserves recognition for all his work in trying to sell the University to our state’s graduating high school seniors.

His ardor for the University wasn’t helped, he points out, by the yearly declines the University has seen in the U.S. News and World Report rankings, which he wrote about in a Sept. 15 letter to The Daily Targum.

His curious solution to the University’s downward spiral is to enlist Athletic Director Tim Pernetti as the public relations wizard to set straight the folks at U.S. News and World Report on what the real University is like. Pernetti will have a big spin job on his hands. Within recent memory, the media have reported on the University’s record-breaking football deficit, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s runway walk at the University, star University philosophers leaving for Michigan, stalled faculty salaries and paying an honorarium to a commencement speaker. That’s the short list.

Pernetti or some other P.R. spinmeister will also have to deal with the methodology U.S. News and World Report uses to rank colleges and universities. The magazine isn’t perfect, but nobody has come up with more consistently reliable measurements

The magazine relies on peer assessment surveys, high school counselor ratings, acceptance rate, high school standing in top 10 percent and 25 percent, SAT and ACT scores, faculty compensation, percent of the faculty with terminal degrees in their field, class size, graduation rate and first-year student retention rate, to name the major criteria.

The University’s best hope to regain what it once stood for academically may be in the hands of the Presidential Search Committee, whose challenging job is to find a new president for the University, one who will re-track the University on its way to becoming “the Berkeley of the East,” a goal envisioned but never realized by the retiring president, Richard L. McCormick.

That’s the fix Rutgers needs, not a P.R. flack.

Richard Seclow is a Rutgers College Class of ’51.

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