“Private, independent colleges like my own, Marlboro College, are not afraid of information—or, to use the term of the day, “transparency,” said Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, president. “We want students and families to know how much we cost, how much financial aid we offer, how many students graduate, how many go on to careers or further study. But we want to be measured accurately and according to the values we uphold.”
Ellen published her views on these values in an editorial, “College-Rating Systems: One Size Cannot Fit All,” in the February 26 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Looking at the examples of both graduation rates and salary after graduation, she examined how these easily accessible statistics give a skewed perspective on what colleges actually teach and how well they do it. She is particularly alarmed with a new plan to use rating systems to reward “high-performance institutions” with more federal financial aid.
“We must be assured that the federal data are accurate,” said Ellen. “And we insist on defining our own values: developing the critical thinking, cultural understanding, and creative capacities of tomorrow’s citizens.”