Only One Oregon College Ranked

Once again, Oregon has placed just one institution of higher learning in the top 50 on the Wall Street Journal’s top feeder schools ranking. The Journal simply takes the number of students the colleges or universities actually send on to graduate school divided by the schools’ class sizes to obtain their rankings. Nothing subjective. Only objective data. And remember, to go to graduate school you have to graduate from college. Few do that at Portland State, for example.

So how did Oregon do? As the title of this article indicated — not too well. No university or college in the state even appeared on the list of the top 50 except one. The Journal also compiles a list each year of the top 30 state schools based on the same criteria. No school from Oregon made that list. Not one.

So who is the mystery school that made the list at number 50 out of 50? Congratulations go to Reed College, now in the same company as Case Western Reserve, Harvard, Yale, Duke, Columbia, Brown, Johns Hopkins, Vassar, and the United States Military Academy at West Point.

If you interview a bunch of college types and try to compile what little they actually know about other schools, you get the US News best schools. If you use actual hard data you get the Journal’s results, and only one small Oregon private College is to be found from the entire state.

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  • eagle eye

    Big deal. The “top” schools in this ranking are going to be either small very selective liberal arts colleges or very selective research universities like the ones on the list in the post. The only very selective school in Oregon is Reed. Even the most selective universities in the state — UO and OSU — are big state universities where only a small fraction of students are going to go on to graduate study. No way they’re going to make the top 50 in this kind of ranking. (They don’t make the top 50 in the U.S. News rankings either. Actually, the top schools in the U.S. News rankings would overlap pretty much with the top schools in the WSJ “feeder” ranking.)

    • Jerry

      How right you are! The small ones on the list include University of Hicago, University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern, University of Michigan, and Stanford. Tiny little places. Research only.

      • eagle eye

        Can’t you even read? I said:

        “or very selective research universities”

        precisely because of places like the ones you mention.

        • Jerry

          How nice to know that being selective in admissions is bad.
          Thanks. It is always best to just let anyone with the money show up and then give them all a second rate education.
          I like it.

          • eagle eye

            Boy, you’re really fast at trying to change the subject — from your reading incomprehension.

            Where did I ever say it is bad to be selective? I think it’s fine that there are places like Harvard and MIT and UC Berkeley (which isn’t as selective as Harvard, but take Harvard’s 1700 or so graduates and match them against Berkeley’s top 1700 (a quarter or so of the class) and you’ll find that Harvard has competition.

            Sure, places like UO and OSU are not as selective as Harvard, or Reed. Perhaps you think it would be better if they knocked off the lower 90% of the class? I don’t think many people in Oregon would go for that.

            And hey, what about yourself? Did you go to one of those fancy schools?

            Not to judge by your poor reading comprehension.

          • Jerry

            You got me there! The Ohio State University. No reading required.

          • eagle eye

            Ohio State a very good place if you are serious and know what you are doing, not quite in the same class as some of its Big 10 brethren like Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois. Among its 50.000+ students are quite a few thousand who are not bozos at all.

  • dean

    Given our paltry funding for state universities, why would we expect them to attract the best and brightest who go on to grad school?

    Ironic isn’t Jerry, that Reed cracks the top 50? This is about as “liberal” a college as there is in the nation. I think they still do not even issue grades for their students. Yet they have an outstanding faculty, top of the line facilities, a demanding classical liberal arts curriculum, and pull in the top high school grads from all over the nation.

    • Jerry

      It made the list precisely because it is PRIVATE, not because it is liberal.

      • dean

        University of Michigan is PRIVATE?

        • Jerry

          No, just selective I guess.

          • dean

            Jerry…I just had a thought. Since there are 50 states, and since Oregon ranks only 27th in population, and we had one college make the list, doesn’t that mean we actually did pretty well here statistically? Were you expecting we would have more than our fair share?

          • eagle eye

            A good point. With its small population and remote location, it would be very hard for an Oregon public university to make the list, even if they were not funded so abysmally. Oregon is just never going to be in the same league as Berkeley or Michigan, especially with the science/engineering split between UO and OSU (forgetting about the fact that this survey only has to do with law/business/medical grad schools).

            Oregon in fact is doing pretty good to have even one liberal arts college, Reed, with an outstanding national reputation and ability to attract top students.

            Kncoking Oregon for not doing better is kind of like knocking us because we had so few Olympic medal winners!

  • Anonymous

    Actually, this ranking system is very narrow and misleading. You can read about it here:

    They only looked at feeding into a little over a dozen business, law, and medical schools. Forget about physics, engineering, molecular biology, philosophy.

    And the schools they picked are predominantly East Coast. So eastern schools are probably going to “feed” in more graduates on that account.

    It’s no wonder then that a place like MIT is not near the top, and Caltech is even further down. Most of their graduates are not going on to business, law, or medical school.

    • proud Oregon father

      Thanks for pointing this out. So what the survey really says is Oregon students from UO, OSU etc. aren’t going to Yale Law school in big numbers, aren’t going to Harvard Medical School. They go to OHSU instead of UC San Francisco. Big surprise! Who cares?

      By the way, I know a kid who DID go to UC San Francisco (the top-notch UC medical campus, which IS comparable to Harvard). Graduated from UO this Spring. So there are some top-notch Oregon students who go on to great things from the local schools. Not everyone can do that. So what?

      Maybe it’s too bad that most of the top Oregon students go out of state for college. Why not? There are a lot of choices out there, and Oregon has been very happy to feed the state schools especially UO and OSU on scraps. It’s amazing they’ve held up as well as they have done.

  • proud Oregon father

    Right, eagle. Not everyone is going to get into Harvard or even be one of those smart Reed weirdies. Most of our kids aren’t geniuses but that doesn’t mean they’re dopes who all can’t go to college, get a degree, have a family and a life. (I’m not knocking the kids who don’t get degrees, either).

    I don’t know what Mr. Dawson’s point is in constantly knocking Oregon schools and colleges.

    • Tim Lyman

      I think Jerry’s point is that our public schools, from kindergarten through university, are third rate.

      • dean

        Tim…yes that is always Jerry’s point. Too bad he is always shown to be wrong in his conclusions, despite paltry wages for our university teachers.

        My son attends University of Montana in the forestry program. They are presently advertising for an assistant professor, 9 months, tenure track. The wage rate is $62,500 per year. U Oregon, our highest paid state school, pays assistant professors a starting wage of around $52,000 last I checked. Oregon ranks about 23rd in per capita income nationally. Montana ranks 46th or 47th. Now how can Montana pay its assistant professor’s 20% more than we can?

        Point is, we are lucky to have as high quality schools as we do given what we pay.

        • Tim Lyman

          Most full time U of O professors (I include assistant and associate professors, but not instructors) make north of $100k a year.

          • eagle eye

            Are you kidding? You haven’t the slightest idea what you are talking about.

            Apart from the question of the absolute salary level, it is a well-known fact that UO professors are notoriously badly paid compared to their national competition.

          • UO science student

            Eagle Eye is right. Oregon professors are paid ridiculously low salaries compared to the national market, especially at the higher ranks. These people who talk about how easy they have it are lunatics, Oregon is lucky to have the people it gets.

  • Anonymous

    “Now how can Montana pay its assistant professor’s 20% more than we can?”

    That’s easy silly deany.
    Montana doesn’t have a parasite of liberals like you permeating every agency and program wasting taxdollars by the millions on liberal programs and policies that don’t work.

    You stupid friends waste the money that would otherwise be going to reasonable things.

  • Frank

    Point is, we are lucky to have as high quality schools as we do given what we pay.
    #4.1.1 dean on 2008-08-27


    Yes, Oregon is very lucky… Especially lucky to have community college instructors (come on, dean, you ain’t no professor!) who whine on blogs about how poorly Oregon pays it’s educators.

    Get over it, dean! You make as much as you are worth, not a penny more.

    If you want more money, you will have to do more work. Real work.

    • eagle eye

      Talk about whiners, you guys here are the biggest mopes around. It’s no wonder the political right is going down.

  • Jerry

    Hey everyone – don’t recall saying Oregon’s schools were bad. Just pointing out where they stand nationally.
    I am not sure how Michigan, with VERY high unemployment and big trouble with its state government on the revenue side can do so much better than we can. I am sure you will think of some excuse.

    But, hey, it is fun to read all the excuses for our mediocrity. Do we have a course in that? You guys are pretty good.

    By the way, the wage rate quoted for the Oregon professor is for some lame area of study, like Japanese poetry. They are paid much more for teaching in more demanding areas, such as physics or chemistry. Much more if they are any good.
    Check it out sometime.

    I think 52K is not bad for a couple of classes a couple times a week – maybe some office hours a couple times a week. It is almost like being retired while you “work”. Summer off, too, as we would not want to work too hard. Short college “year”, too. Very short.
    Trust me on this – college “professors” at Oregon schools are not overworked.

    At OSU, for example, classes begin September 29th and end December 12th. Wow! That’s a lot of work! That’s a lot of classes. That is a grueling schedule. And it all starts again January 5th! Why, that’s only four weeks off for Christmas. This mythical 52 K is starting to sound pretty good. Who else do we know that gets 4 weeks off for Christmas??? Even public school teachers don’t get quite that much. This could be a union issue.

    Boy, are we lucky to have these profs sweating away for peanuts. I just wonder, though, why it is we always have the profs. If everything is so bad, who would want the job?

    Wait, I forgot, someone with true dedication to the students of tomorrow. It is good to know that Oregon has hundreds and hundreds of such dedicated souls. Hundreds, do you hear me?

    • dean

      Jerry…the work of a full time college teacher begins well ahead of classes, and extends well after they are done. And for most, summers are not spent lying on the beach. They are spent doing research, writing papers, attending conferences, engaging in academic committees. You seem to have no freaking idea what colege professors do.

      The wage quoted is the published AVERAGE from 2005. That means that the physics and chemistry dudes and dudettes are factored in. For all I know it means the men’s football and basketball coach salaries are also factored in. It means for many, if not most, the actual wage is much lower than $52K per year. And that number was for UO, which is our HIGHEST paid state school. Western O, Eastern O, Southern O, OSU and PSU have LOWER average wages than UO, in some cases substantially lower.

      Michigan is living off of fumes. They used to be a rich industrial state and used some of the accumulated capital to build some fine research institutions, particularly University of Michigan. University of Colorado in Boulder also used to be one of the finest public universities in the nation, but your tax cutting friends there (Tabor) put an end to that in a few short years. When I took my son to visit Montana, we met a mother and daughter, straight A student going into pre-med, who would not go to U Colorado because of all the cutbacks and loss of quality there. Exporting your best and brightest is not a great economic development strategy Jerry.

      We reap what we sow. If we fail to fund higher education at more than barely adequate levels, we will not get more than barely adequate results. I’m not making excuses for mediocrity. It is YOU who constantly berates our public schools and it is YOU who constantly whines about taxes being too high. Busineses engaged in intellectual work do not prosper by hiring at the bottom of the wage scale. Same goes for universities. Take responsibility for your own advocacy Jerry. You hate public schools and want to kill them. Admit it. The truth will make you free.

      • Jerry

        Oh the work load!!
        Oh the despair!!
        Oh me oh my!!!

    • UO science student

      Pardon me Mr. Dawson, but you sound like a fool. I’m heading off soon to start a Ph.D. program in molecular biology at one of those really great places in California. I got into Stanford but at my parent’s income level, the financial aid package offered was low, and my parents were not willing/able to pay my way through Stanford without jeopardizing their finances and the prospects of my siblings.

      So, off to UO I went. I was very happy with what I got there. I was near the top of my class in my subject, I probably wouldn’t have been at Stanford. But I’m going off to one of the best graduate schools in my field (UO is pretty good, too).

      You are completely ignorant about the workload of the professors. Big winter vacation? Guess what, most of them are working at their research, unpaid, and they even let a lot of us undergraduates work in their labs. That’s right, we get to work with real scientists who are donating their time. And I know how uncompetitive the salaries and working conditions are here. The only thing keeping the quality of people here is the scenery and lifestyle.

      I would really like to see you compete for a faculty job at UO. Or even take the courses I took. I think they would probably mop the floor with you.

      As for UO’s standing, it’s actually not that bad, all things considered. If you look at the US News rankings, it is around 115 or so overall, I forget. But in the key ranking of “Peer standing” or “Academic reputation” or whatever it’s called, UO is somewhere about in the top 60 among all national research universities, and maybe in the top 30 among public universities. Not bad when you consider Oregon’s size, the measly public funding, the low salaries they pay the professors, etc.

      By inclination I’m kind of a political conservative. But when I see the kind of trash that people talk here about Oregon higher education, about professors (which I hope I’m able to be sometime), it’s a real turnoff. I don’t know what you think you’re doing, but appealing to bright, ambitious young people, which is what I like to consider myself, you’re not doing that at all, you are turning us off. You sound like a sour old loser.

      • Jerry

        I find that people who over-react to postings such as mine, who resort to name-calling to make their point (sour old loser?), who believe that a ranking of 115 is good, and who admit they would not have been near the top of their class had they attended Stanford simply actually help reinforce my notion that things are not so good at many Oregon Universities. I would expect a more reasoned argument from someone “near the top of their class”. Anecdotal musings about a few people “donating” their time are not very compelling.

        And my point was not to bash Oregon schools. I simply reported on the one school that made the list and congratulated them for doing so.

        You might want to read Frank’s post about his own parents at OSU.

        People who so quickly foment are often people who recognize some truth to what has been said but do not want to hear it.

        And, I submit, if things were as bad as you and Dean say they are, no one would teach at Oregon universities. It would be like picking strawberries. College teaching would be something Americans just wouldn’t do.

        And don’t forget, “Minds Move Mountains”.

        • Frank

          I wrote:
          “Both my parents were college profs at OSU. Summers off. Sabbaticals every 7 years. Tenure. Life was fun growing up in a University town with parents who were profs. High pay, low work hours, low stress (but as Henry says: “Politics are high because the stakes are so low”). ”

          and also:
          “It’s a cush job with good pay, great benefits, no accountability, lax work ethic, and many losers who can’t do, but only teach. That said, there are many exceptions to that general rule, but mainly in the sciences.”

          And, yes, my dad was in the sciences. And no, I am NOT bashing my parents, nor Univ profs, nor OSU (Go Beavs!).

          Life was good growing up as a Univeristy brat in Corvallis, as I am sure it was in Eugene as well, back in the 70s. Growing up in a University household, with University salary, and University benefits, was a good thing (although my dad almost took a job at Ithaca, which gave University brats free tuition… would have been a sweet deal, a free ride at Cornell). I don’t remember much whining about how poor the pay was, even though my dad made around $6000 per year in the 60s.

          • UO science student

            OK, you say you were in Corvallis in the 60s and 70s, I guess. You mention your dad making $6000 back then and not complaining, as if that has anything to do with today. I guess you never learned anything about inflation?

            I’m told that back then, academic salaries in Oregon were much more competitive with national standards. They aren’t today. Anybody can easily look up the facts and see this.

            Finally, you say:

            “I am NOT bashing my parents, nor Univ profs, nor OSU”

            You sure had me fooled on all 3 counts.

        • UO science student

          You aren’t trashing Oregon colleges here and in previous posts? I guess I misunderstood. It seems to me you have always done that, you spit on the Oregon colleges, the professors, the students too.

          Did I say a ranking of 115 for UO is “good”? I didn’t, really. (It does put UO in the second tier.) You completely missed my main point which is that despite its low level of funding (which is why it’s 115 in the U.S. News rankings), it’s academic reputation is actually a lot better. In the top 30 public universities. I think that’s pretty remarkable given the lousy funding in Oregon.

          Have you ever come out for more funding for Oregon public universities so their rankings would improve? I would like to hear about this. I’m not holding my breath.

          So I don’t think I would be in the top of my class at Stanford. Maybe I’m just being modest, but here’s why. My SAT scores put me well within the 99th percentile, but the top students at Stanford are in the top .1%, probably the top .01% I have my doubts how I would do against them.

          I just gave you some anecdotes about UO? That’s better than your completely erroneous, uninformed ignorance.

          Is teaching at UO like being a strawberry picker? No, it’s not. But when you have an elite group of the top 60 or so universities, it’s called the AAU, and UO is in it, but their faculty pay is at the bottom of the heap, no, you’re not going to have a faculty like Caltech, Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard. Sorry, UO is an overachiever, but not by that much.

          I look at the faculty I studied under here and compare them to you, from what I can tell you are completely outclassed.

          I still think you’re a loser. Nobody in my circle of students would find the point of view at your website here appealing, not the least bit.

  • Reed Parent

    I don’t care how they’re ranked. Reed is a despicable institution that ruins young lives. They let those kids do all the drugs and booze they want and don’t care that results in nearly a 30% dropout rate. The dropouts come out drug addicted and in need of rehab.

    • eagle eye

      May I inquire, why are you a Reed parent? Aren’t you shelling out a bucketful of money for your child to go there? Or is your child paying his own way, or getting a full ride from Reed?

  • Very Bad Man

    Having grown up in California, it’s no big secret that the major colleges in Oregon are considered as some of the lamest on the west coast. Nothing even remotely like UC Berkley, Stanford or Cal Tech in Oregon. Even the University of Nevada Campuses rank above Oregon in education quality.

    Oregon is a LAME STATE with LAME SCHOOLS. No wonder the smart kids leave here and rarely return.

    • eagle eye

      You’re right, Oregon has nothing like UC Berkeley, Stanford, or Caltech. But why would anyone be surprised at this? Oregon is 1/10 the size of California in population, even less in wealth. Oregon has never supported higher education. When California was busy try to make Berkeley the greatest university in the world, when wealthy southern California businessmen were trying to build a rival to MIT, when Leland Stanford was using his fortune to get Stanford going, what was Oregon doing? Chopping trees and running UO and OSU on a shoestring.

      What does Oregon’s richest businessman do today? Makes UO into an athletic fat cat, does almost nothing for the academic “side” of campus, which is living on crumbs. So unlike California.

      • UO science student

        You are right, Eagle Eye, there is no way Oregon is going to have a Berkeley or Stanford or Caltech. If it did, at UO or OSU, most UO or OSU students would not be able to get in, not with their admissions standards, not even at the huge Berkeley campus.

        Oregon COULD have a sort of smaller scale U. Wisconsin or Michigan. It would have to be at UO since the other schools including OSU would be starting at a much lower level. Of course, at UO there would be no engineering. But in what it does, UO could be as good as Wisconinsin, pound for pound.

        That would take decent funding in the state and a desire on the part of people like Phil Knight to fund academic excellence, not just the sports teams. Probably won’t ever happen, but there’s no reason it couldn’t.

  • Frank

    deaniac blathers:
    “Jerry…the work of a full time college teacher begins well ahead of classes, and extends well after they are done. And for most, summers are not spent lying on the beach. They are spent doing research, writing papers, attending conferences, engaging in academic committees. You seem to have no freaking idea what colege professors do.”


    Well, not sure how much “freaking idea” Jerry knows, but I know a lot about what ‘colege’ (sic) profs do. Both my parents were college profs at OSU. Summers off. Sabbaticals every 7 years. Tenure. Life was fun growing up in a University town with parents who were profs. High pay, low work hours, low stress (but as Henry says: “Politics are high because the stakes are so low”).

    The biggest problem I ever heard my parents complain about was when the loser prof two doors down would stick his coffee cup under the drip and take all the high-octane coffee before the pot had a chance to fill all the way up! Oh, and how did you think I learned to drive? State Motor Pool cars!

    It’s a cush job with good pay, great benefits, no accountability, lax work ethic, and many losers who can’t do, but only teach. That said, there are many exceptions to that general rule, but mainly in the sciences.

    But the English department? Ha! The liberal studies dept? Ha Ha! The multicultural feminist studies? Triple HA!

    • UO science student

      I was reading your post and thinking of saying “That’s OSU for you, it’s not like UO”. And I did catch what you said about the sciences.

      But the part about learning to drive in State Motor Pool cars? That really sounds suspicious to me. I rode in/drove motor pool vehicles at UO on occasion. I can tell you, it was spelled out that they were ONLY for official business and any violation was big trouble. NO recreational use.

      Also, I see the cars that faculty/staff at UO drive in to work. There are no state pool vehicles in the mix! Except for very special, official use.

      I just don’t believe a word you say, I think you’re making up your whole story.

      Another giveaway is when you talk about the “liberal studies department” and the “multiculutral feminist studies” dept. If you were really a faculty child (or brat), as you describe yourself, you would know better than to name non-existent departments like this.

      I believe you are just a fake.

      • Frank

        Typical student (hooray for UO, OSU sucks, go team!), are you an undergrad?

        How old are you? I am talking early 70s, and yes, I am probably not the norm regarding taking liberal advantage of the Motor Pool. Nobody could or would be able to do that in today’s environment. In fact, given the heat the motor pool has taken politically over the last few decades, it is a miracle that it is still around.

        And I never said that motor pool vehicles were used as daily commuter cars, did I? (good slaughter of that straw man!) Maybe my dad took a pool truck out when he did field work? Maybe I went with him? Maybe he let me drive the gravel Forest Service back roads? Maybe I had my learners permit? Maybe my dad bent the rules back then (or ignored them)?

        “I believe that you are just a fake.”

        LOL Yes, I go around the whole blogosphere masquerading as a faculty brat!! That is funny!

        I believe that you are a fake. Probably some homeless shopping cart pusher in a public library, wishing he was an UO science student. LOL!!! Maybe I am wrong?

        Maybe you are too?

        • UO science student

          OK, so you’re an old geezer, you admit nobody would use the motor pool that way now, if they ever did. So why did you bring it up?

          You’re early 70’s. I’m 21. Headed off to California at one of those schools that keeps coming up here (Berkeley, Caltech, Stanford).

          Maybe that’s the way it was at OSU 50 years ago. It’s nothing like that at UO today, I would wager not at OSU either.

          Your notions about college professors are hilarious.

          I have to go back to getting ready to go, I have a life ahead of me. I hope I don’t end up like you guys.

          • Frank

            “You’re early 70’s. I’m 21. Headed off to California at one of those schools that keeps coming up here (Berkeley, Caltech, Stanford).”

            Sorry, I was very unclear. When I said “I am talking early 70s,” I should have said “I am talking early 1970s…” In other words, I am just under 50. But maybe that is still an old geezer to a young whipper-snapper like you!

            Good luck with that life you have ahead of you! And after your PhD at UC or Caltech, stay and become a Prof there. I’ll be sending my kids down there in 8 to 10 years.

            Thanks for stopping by. This places needs more people with your intellect. Dean is a light weight compared to you.

          • UO science student

            Thanks at last for your good wishes. And your compliment — I have no desire to put down dean though.

            I think you’re a bit naive about getting a Ph.D. at Berkeley or Caltech or Stanford and staying at one of those places. The number of faculty jobs at those places — say the top 5 or 10 departments in my field — is far less than the number of Ph.D.’s that come out of the top departments. I might like a job like that — not at all sure I would want all the pressure — but the fact is, anyone who gets a faculty job at a good research department (like Chemistry/Molecular Biology at UO) is doing very well. I would be lucky to do that well. If you saw the people that they interview here for assistant professor jobs, you would be amazed. And also disheartened to see how many of them get a job offers at some place higher up the ladder and turn down UO. because UO simply can’t match salary, research startup money, etc. But ALL the job interviewees are way above the average of fresh Ph.D.’s.

            I would be happy to come back to Oregon, if I had the chance, especially to UO. But if I were offered a job at a significantly better place, it would be hard to come back. Because the prospects at UO are and appear to remain very limited. It’s really too bad because UO COULD be one of the better public universities — maybe in the top 20 — if people in Oregon cared to support it. OSU too could be quite good. (It’s too bad that the engineering is at OSU while the best science is at UO — a mistake that was made in the remote past, long before I was around.)

  • eagle eye

    A very interesting and revealing discussion, all around.

    UO science student, I offer you my congratulations, and wish you the best of luck.

    • dean

      Same from me. Mazeltov to you young student!

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