USC’s ambition is to be the greatest research university of this century.
Oh man this cracks me up. No top university explicitly endeavors to be "the greatest research university of this century" - at most, they say "one of the greatest." USC is developing a hilariously sad case of delusions of grandeur. It's the sort of thing where anyone with knowledge of academia has some second-hand embarrassment just hearing it.
And yes, docfreedaddy, I'm being harsh, and intentionally so - USC deserves it. I would cringe if I heard a Stanford administrator say that.
fall2016parent--I fully agree with your comment. Even though this is a Stanford cite, I am surprised at the vehemence of criticism for USC in this case to the extent of being absurd. Students coming to these cites and parents deserve balanced responses. For instance a previous post raised the tragic violence that occurred near USC and cited crime statistics as evidence that Stanford and Palo Alto are better choices. However, any university in a city, Columbia in NYC, Yale in Hew Haven, U of P will be in areas of higher crime than Palo Alto, but a sense of balance would also at least give lip service to richness of culture and range of enriching opportunities for an undergraduate a vibrant city would offer relative to the critique to Palo Alto offered by Stanford students. I personably believe that it is a valuable maturing process for a student to be able to be drawn to a dream school, but receive assistance to measure it against the reality of what it is discerned to be and appears to offer to them.
^ that "previous poster" who brought up the recent robberies at USC is fall2016parent. Someone pointed out in the next post that this sort of thing happens at every urban campus. I then pointed out that it's undeniable that some areas are more dangerous than others. There was plenty of "balance" in that line of discussion. He/she was asking whether anyone was "worried about the spur of incidences around USC," not about the cultural offerings of a city.
Phantasmagoric--I was much impressed with the letter a former Stanford Provost or president wrote to USNWR critical of their rankings. This past admit weekend at the seminal presentation by the current provost in Memorial Chapel, Stanford's rankings were a cornerstone of the provost's talk. He mentioned Stanford's rankings twice and with dramatic pauses and emphasis the standings for all departments. Nowhere was there the a caution or attempt to educate an impressionable audience that the rankings are based on graduate school rankings, what the bases for the rankings are or the question of untested validity. Why the change in the administration's perspective? It is simply unfair to cite USC admin's attention to ranking, which was not present in my contact with USC as it was at Stanford, and not be mindful of your present administration's central focus in his keynote address and presumably elsewhere.
I see numerous references to the graduate rankings above and Stanford's standing from the vocal core on this blog, so I am not sure what you are referring to in saying they are not "used as evidence" here as well.
As far as comparison of specific programs, I offered links to the Stanford Communications and SLE programs (the latter I appreciate learning about on this forum) and invited comparison to the USC Annenberg journalism and communications undergraduate program and the Thematic Options Honors program. Suggesting that an informed and critical appraisal of the programs be initiated by anyone truly interested is "casting doubt" is simply not accurate. I emphasized that the web pages comport with the presentations from the respective programs and contact with program administrators students and faculty I took part in. The goal, if not for you, is for others to examine in depth, rather than accept generalities, cursory impressions or worse biases or judgements formed on "rankings" alone.
I posted on the Stanford cite because my disquiet was with Stanford. USC far exceeded my expectations for the areas of interest and I had no lingerings issues to try to resolve there. I very much would have wanted my daughter to attend Stanford--closer to home, great reputation, and was hoping to find the key to remove the doubt and concern borne from firsthand experience.
I have no interest in debating which is a better university. My goal was to combine whatever could be gained from this website with discussions with close friends who currently have students at Stanford (none at USC), my own experiences at Stanford in the service of identifying which of two settings would offer the richest environment for my daughter to develop her skills and interests. In the end it was not Stanford. Am I surprised, yes, given my preconceptions. Does this take anything away from Stanford. Absolutely not and I am please that it will open the door to another deserving student on the wait list who hopefully, with their family, have diligently and thoroughly investigated their top choices and conclude Stanford is best for them. I hope it has been a good learning experience for all.
not be mindful of your present administration's central focus in his keynote address and presumably elsewhere.
Funny - one person mentions rankings and apparently it's a "central focus" of the entire administration (and the "cornerstone" of his talk - when he mentioned it.... twice). I'm willing to bet that one of the rankings that the provost referenced was from THE, which recently put Stanford at #1 in the world for humanities, edging out Harvard - quite an accomplishment.
In general, admins don't mention rankings and have repeatedly downplayed them. USC on the other hand does not, and if you don't believe me, I can show you plenty of sources straight from the horse's mouth where USC admins trumpet rankings and emphasize their need to get into the top X or top Y.
the graduate rankings above and Stanford's standing from the vocal core on this blog, so I am not sure what you are referring to in saying they are not "used as evidence" here as well.
I said: "You keep railing against undergraduate rankings when not one Stanford poster here has used them as evidence." Your efforts to be sly are not going unnoticed.
invited comparison to the USC Annenberg journalism and communications undergraduate program and the Thematic Options Honors program.
Yes, you invited comparison, then immediately went on to proclaim that "Stanford pales in comparison to USC in the humanities and journalism/communications areas."
"casting doubt" is simply not accurate
Really? You've now said multiple times that Stanford "pales in comparison in the humanities." Isn't that casting doubt? "Critical appraisal" is right - you're being overly critical of Stanford's humanities because you're trying to prove to yourself that USC is better. Not even USC faculty/admins are arrogant enough to say that USC's humanities are on Stanford's level, much less better. They know USC doesn't match Stanford in this respect right now, but are determined to change that, which is admirable. But they aren't going to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that USC is better than Stanford right now for humanities - that would be absurd.
"Funny - one person mentions rankings and apparently it's a "central focus" of the entire administration (and the "cornerstone" of his talk - when he mentioned it.... twice)"
When the one person extolling Stanford's rankings is the Provost and he does so during the admit weekend keynote address in the Memorial Chapel to admitted parents and students that is extremely significant. I would encourage you to obtain a copy of the address or if it was videoed, review it to see for yourself the Provost's dramatic emphasis on rankings. At present, you simply seem argumentative and exceedingly biased. I think we both have provided enough of a sample of our perspectives and motivations for other individuals in the same position I was in to make their own judgements about the usefulness of our posts and what they might say about the various schools.
I will again say cost is not a factor for me. I don't qualify for financial aid, like Stanford, none of the other schools she was accepted to offer trustee awards. I hd no idea USC offered a merit award and to me at the time of application based on the little I knew, USC was not a serious consideration. USC had no merit award application, but just culled the applications and named Finalists. I value education highly. My daughter has been in private school since kindergarten. I have been and am more than happy to support private education as well as public education for various districts through property taxes.
As I have said, the decision was my daughter's. She knows tuition is not a financial burden for us and was not a factor in her decision. Your comment to the contrary further seems to separate your objectives in any discourse we have from mine and as often said in other contexts, I take yours and others with similar comments to be your own and not to reflect on the fine institution Stanford is.
It's extremely significant when it's a pattern of behavior. That isn't the case here. It is the case, however, at USC.
position I was in to make their own judgements about the usefulness of our posts
Yes, people can see that you continually make false or misleading claims that you refuse to substantiate, and when called out or backed into a corner, you simply ignore the evidence that proved you wrong. In fact, several times throughout this thread, you didn't bother replying to posts/claims that presented such evidence.
And yet again you claim others are biased while sidestepping the obvious fact that you're strongly biased in favor of USC. The difference is, reality is biased in favor of Stanford.
phantasmagoric--attempting to minimize the significance of your Provost speaking from prepared remarks at a gathering of newly admitted students and parents in the Memorial Chapel in the weekend keynote address is absurd and a substantial distortion of the significance of the Provost's position and what he said.
In that vein, I can certainly understand how you, or a like behaving cohort, would view anything I wrote as an unsubstantiated claim. Fortunately, all is available for anyone to review. This is not a high school debate. I did choose to ignore comments that were incendiary, arrogant, pedantic and not seemingly related to having an instructive discourse to illuminate some questions that I thought were vital to my daughter's decision and presumably will be to others in the future in a similar position.
It would seem you will not be satisfied unless you "win" some debate I have not been having with you. If so, I will concede that what I experienced through a focused investigation of each undergraduate program in the non-science areas that interested my daughter was not "real", the perceptions my daughter came away with were not "real", I imagined Memorial Chapel was filled to the brim with admitted students and their parents listening as your Provost spoke and in fact reality is just how you see it for me and everyone else. I can live with that.
It's only you who is choosing to read that much into two remarks from the provost in a single speech. From that, you're concluding that it's "central to the administration" - but it's not as though those two remarks were the focus of his entire speech, nor does he represent the entire administration, nor is it a pattern. Do you see why it's absurd to generalize from this small instance? I can point you to tons of instances of USC's administration showing their obsession with rankings. Now that's a pattern.
You also ignored plenty of non-combative comments presenting evidence contrary to your assertions. It's hard to take you seriously when your reasons for believing what you do include such illustrative experiences like "the campus was boring when I briefly visited over the summer" and "look at the websites! USC's is better."
It's funny that you assert that you haven't been having a debate with me (or others, presumably), when you just spent no fewer than 12 paragraphs replying to me and others on this page alone. This back-and-forth certainly isn't some idle conversation over tea.
To those in a position of making an important life decision, achieving a reasonably accurate "peak under the hood" is most definitely not idle conversation. There were many detailed discussions that could have been undertaken, but my sense has been any discussion about Stanford that did not primarily pay homage to its ranking was taboo for several vocal participants here and did undermine a potential for this vehicle to benefit all concerned.
I will continue to conclude that prepared remarks in an august location as a keynote address by the provost with the emphasis he provided does represent the administration's position. I don't grasp how you could view this otherwise.
Your pejorative restatement of my comments made previously provide an apt illustration of why many responses to you were necessary:
You said above..."It's hard to take you seriously when your reasons for believing what you do include such illustrative experiences like "the campus was boring when I briefly visited over the summer" and "look at the websites! USC's is better."
What I said was the time (280 hours) I spent on campus over the summers raised concerns and the need and desire to spend time during the school year which I had the opportunity to do as did my daughter.
With regard to the websites my comment was that the websites paralleled my experience with the programs. However, it is of interest in itself to view various department representation across universities. For those who do not have the opportunity to personally visit the departments, talk to administrators, students, attend classes, lectures or colloquia, the websites can contain a relative wealth of information obtained with minimal time or effort.
While we obviously have different perspectives and likely different values, like you, i do not want mine to be misstated or misunderstood. The urgency and stakes for future students trying to establish their perceptions and reality are too high to not provide them accurate, unambiguous positions which are not distorted or marginalized to allow them to reach their own reasoned conclusions.
Last edited by docfreedaddy; 05-02-2012 at 06:09 PM.
Wow--taking a break from my writing marathon, and I'm incredulous to discover that this dopey thread is still alive. I have no interest whatsoever in continuing the underlying topic, having said all there is to say about that, but I'll add a couple of quick comments:
(1) Prof. Etchemendy, who filled in for Pres. Hennessy at the Admit Weekend address, is an absolutely brilliant mathematical and semantic logician--I'm thinking about approaching him to see if he might serve as my advisor, but I'm going to wait until Hennessy is back to ask. I didn't hear his talk, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was more of a "just the facts" kind of thing than Hennessy usually gives, given Etchemendy's steel-trap mind. He'a probably not as entertaining, nor quite as charismatic, at the podium as Hennessy can be, but Provosts fill in for Presidents on sabbatical; that's part of their interim job. I've never once otherwise heard, or even heard of, any faculty or admins. here touting Stanford's rankings, in my entire time on campus. (Nor have I ever once heard anyone talking about his gpa, or his SAT scores, or that kind of thing. As I have mentioned previously, people here are generally self-confident and secure, and that was very magnetic to me during my deliberations.)
The urgency and stakes for future students trying to establish their perceptions and reality are too high to not provide them accurate, unambiguous positions which are not distorted or marginalized to allow them to reach their own reasoned conclusions.
Oh yes, this thread will affect the lives of hundreds - no, thousands - of students for decades to come. You are providing a public service here! How dare we taint the perception of your assertions with facts, evidence - indeed reality? Preposterous!
You keep charging that I or others care so much about rankings, so I looked over my posts in this thread. Out of the 26 of my posts, I presented rankings exactly twice: once, when you were initially asking about the strength of Stanford humanities and social sciences (at the time, you seemed to be under the impression that Stanford's strength was solely in STEM fields), and once again, when you recently started asserting that USC was superior to Stanford in humanities and communication (when in reality, nearly everyone considers Stanford to be superior in both). Two other times I mentioned rankings - once, to explain that I think undergraduate rankings are absurd and that subject rankings make more sense (although I did not present any), and again, to present you with the critical article from the past Stanford president. Somehow, based on that, you concluded that I must be obsessed with rankings.
Don't forget that most of our debate focused on capital growth, financial resources, and the integration of undergraduate and graduate education. Don't forget that you were the first one to levy a personal attack (asserting that I must be hired by Stanford). Don't forget that when I nicely asked you to point out what it is that you disagree with, and to provide evidence, you bowed out and did not respond. By the way, I'm still interested:
Please provide credible evidence that contradicts my points, in particular with regard to diversified endowments, capital growth, the quiet phase of a university campaign, the NYC competition, and any other points that you find to be 'biased' or 'untrue.'
I remembered reading Etchemendy mention the THE rankings in recent Faculty Senate minutes. Straight from the horse's mouth (emphasis mine):
He continued, “I have one announcement. The president and I never look at rankings. But somebody brought to our attention the Times Higher Education University World Rankings, a ranking of all universities in the world. [The rankings are divided among different disciplines.] In Engineering and technology, we rank number five. Clearly, they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
[ Laughter ]
Provost Etchemendy continued, “Physical Sciences is number five. Pretty good. No other university, by the way, ranks as high as we do in all of these areas simultaneously.
“Life sciences, number five.
“Health, preclinical, clinical health, number six.
We did rank number one in two subjects. Arts and Humanities – Stanford is the top university in the world in arts and humanities. And it is the top university in the world in social sciences.”
[ Applause ]
Provost Etchemendy: “So the engineers and physical scientists, I know you feel that we don’t love you -- we will love you when you get your rankings up.”
[ Laughter ]
He jokes about the rankings ("I know you feel that we don't love you" - hahaha). I'm willing to bet these were the rankings he mentioned. And it is a small bit to be proud of - Stanford's the only university in the world to have made it in the top 5 in all broad disciplines. If this were USC's accomplishment - hell, if USC made it into the top 20 in any of them - it'd be bellowing it from the rooftops (though they still constantly trumpet the fact that they made it into the top 25 in US News). Apparently, in docfreedaddy's book, when one Stanford administrator mentions this accomplishment, Stanford should be shamed for it. When USC does it, oh it's because something "exciting and inspiring and unique" is happening at USC.
I'd give Etchemendy a break right now for his terrible speech: his job as provost is as time-consuming as the president's (if not more so - look at Stanford's org chart, the provost manages tons of units), they just finished a $6.2 billion campaign in which the provost is an important fundraiser, and he's taking on the duties of both president and provost right now while Hennessy is relaxing after the exhausting campaign (which Etchemendy can't do, as much as I'm sure he'd love to). I feel kinda sorry for him right now - the poor guy can't get a break. One thing's for sure: he's going to make a fantastic president when Hennessy steps down.
Last edited by phantasmagoric; 05-02-2012 at 07:51 PM.