In a recent publication by The Princeton Review, 10 Col-gate faculty members were ranked among the nation’s top 300 undergraduate professors.
The book, titled The Best 300 Professors, was published on April 3. In the Associated Press release, it is described as a “guidebook” to Amer-ica’s top undergraduate professors, containing a profile of each profes-sor selected, as well as information on their respective institutions.
“We were very proud to see 10 Colgate faculty cited for ex-cellence in Princeton Review among a total of only 300 across the country. That was the third highest number in the coun-try – maybe higher if you take percentages into account,” Vice President for Communications Debra Townsend said.
The Colgate faculty members included on the list were R.M. Douglas, Karen Harpp, Doug Johnson, Spencer Kelly, Nina Moore, Paul R. Pinet, Dan Sara-cino, Rebecca Shiner, Allen R. Strand and Ephraim Woods III. These professors represent a range of academic fields: chemistry, geol-ogy, history, mathematics, political science and psychology.
“There is no question that these are some of our finest professors and we’re always excited to see Col-gate faculty members get the rec-ognition they deserve,” Townsend said. “There are, of course, many, many others who may have not made this particular list but are also frequently recognized for their stature and accomplishments.”
The only two universities with more names in the book than Col-gate were Mount Holyoke College and James Madison University, with 14 and 11 “top professors” re-spectively. The College of William & Mary tied with Colgate, also boasting ten faculty profiles in the Princeton Review publication. But many other competitive colleges had half of that number, or even less: Amherst College and Cornell University held five spots each, Pomona College had three, Yale University and Harvard University boasted two and Swarthmore Col-lege and Princeton University each maintained only one.
According to the press release, “The Princeton Review developed the project in partnership with RateMyProfessors.com and selected the professors in the book based on qualitative and quantitative data from survey findings and ratings collected by both organizations.”
The algorithm for developing the initial list involved a cross list-ing of ratings from these two sourc-es, as well as contacting individual schools and checking the list de-rived from the rating against other sources; after this initial step, The Princeton Review conducted a de-tailed review of the short list of pro-fessors under consideration before the editors made final selections.
“There is no question that a poll like this one creates quite a buzz and may have an impact on prospective students who turn to places like ‘Princeton Review’ and ‘Rate My Professor’ to inform their college choices. We have also seen other news outlets, including CBS News, pick up the story and the name recognition that comes with this attention is certainly a plus,” Townsend said. But she remains wary of the rating schemes that these ranking systems use.
“Colgate has ranked highly in many rankings throughout the year,” Townsend said. “However, no such rankings – not even U.S. News & World Report – rely on methodologies that fully capture the quality, depth and nuances of a university and its scholars. For these and other reasons, we are wary of publicizing and touting such ratings ourselves.”
Provost and Interim Dean of the Faculty Bruce Selleck echoed this cautious sentiment.
“Clearly Colgate has many, many excellent teachers, and it is great that a number have been recognized in this way. However, since the Princ-eton Review’s methods for this, and other rankings that it publishes, are not clear to me, I cannot provide much insight on the specifics of the results,” Selleck said.
There is widespread recognition that such ranking schemes have their flaws and problematic factors. However, this has not detracted from the pride that many Colgate students, faculty and staff feel for the recognition of both their in-stitution and 10 of their esteemed professors and colleagues.
Contact Rebekah Ward at [email protected]