September 7, 2007

I, and the other 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 Web sites 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.

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 may make them soon 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

Elaine Hansen, Bates

Barry Mills, Bowdoin

Nancy Vickers, Bryn Mawr

Robert Oden, Carleton

William D. Adams, Colby

Rebecca Chopp, Colgate

Thomas W. Ross, Davidson 

Russell Osgood, Grinnell

Joan Hinde Stewart, Hamilton

Stephen Emerson, Haverford

Ronald Liebowitz, Middlebury

David Oxtoby, Pomona

Alfred Bloom, Swarthmore

James Jones, Trinity

Catharine Hill, Vassar

Kenneth Ruscio, Washington and Lee

Kim Bottomly, Wellesley College

Michael S. Roth, Wesleyan

Morton Schapiro, Williams