In their own words:
How much more important, then, is it for taxpayers to know that their money—in the form of billions of dollars of research grants and student aid—is being put to good use? These are institutions, after all, that produce most of the country's cutting-edge scientific research and are therefore indirectly responsible for much of our national wealth and prosperity. They are the path to the American dream, the surest route for hard-working poor kids to achieve a better life in a changing economy. And they shape, in profound and subtle ways, students' ideas about American society and their place in it. It seemed obvious to us that these heavily subsidized institutions ought to be graded on how well they perform in these roles, so we set out to create the first annual Washington Monthly College Rankings. While other guides ask what colleges can do for students, we ask what colleges are doing for the country.
The first question we asked was, what does America need from its universities? From this starting point, we came up with three central criteria: Universities should be engines of social mobility, they should produce the academic minds and scientific research that advance knowledge and drive economic growth, and they should inculcate and encourage an ethic of service.
Not surprisingly, using that criteria, Wesleyan comes out #2 among liberal arts colleges (#12 in the US News ranking).
In more humorous Wesleyan news, I recently received an email advertising MIDDLETOWN DANCES!, which apparently is an "all-day, city-wide dance festival." I perused the schedule and found these gems:
- At the Middletown Roller Rink, "View the premiere of Rink, performed by Darla Stanley and Patricia Zubini-Weis, at 1:15pm and 1:45pm. In Rink, the two dancers cope with turbulent forces of nature and the psyche shaping obstacles into vehicles for rediscovery."
- On Main Street: "Premiere performances of a Waiter’s Dance choreographed specifically for and performed by the wait staff of Connecticut’s culinary capital, Middletown."