Schools are getting desperate. So why not double your faculty, dine with the magazine's editor, or cut a deal with Donald Trump?
When US News & World Report releases its annual college rankings today, university and college administrators will indulge in their annual display of cognitive dissonance: decrying the rankings as nothing more than an academic beauty contest, while whispering to their aides, "Where did we land?"
No doubt, critics of the rankings will point to the minor firestorm that erupted this spring when a Clemson University official admitted to gaming the system as evidence that the US News poll is fatally flawed.
As president of a college that, a few years back, moved into the Top 100 Liberal Arts Colleges in the magazine's survey, I'd be lying if I said that our ratings in US News don't matter to us. They do.
Among college presidents, the rankings issue is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue of academia – everybody looks at it, but few admit to liking it. In the absence of a more effective system – and surely in this age of Google algorithms and World's Sexiest Man polls there must be a better way – let me offer a few modest proposals for success in getting your college better ratings.
•Summer in the Hamptons: Nothing is more effective than personal contact. US News publisher and real estate mogul Mort Zuckerman likes to vacation there. Perhaps a wealthy trustee can buy an estate that your college can turn into a research center. Invite Mort over for tennis. Invite Countess Luann de Lesseps (the star of "The Real Housewives of New York City") over. Mingle. Discuss. Maybe something good will happen.