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Does Michigan have one flagship (U-M) or two (U-M, MSU?)

edsg25edsg25 19 replies5 threads New Member
edited July 2012 in Michigan State University
Some states operate with one flagship public university. Schools like UIUC, UW-Madison, U of M-Twin Cities, Mizzou, UNL come to mind.

others like Indiana appear to have two flagship universities. IU and Purdue have always come across of equals. In fact, Purdue usually has a higher rank than IU. Besides, the system in that state divides the curricula between the two very nicely. And the fact that IUPU exists is a testimony to these two institutions and their state wide projection. In Indiana, you find a state where there was an original public university (IU) that was joined by a land-grant university (Purdue). In some states, like Illinois, the land-grant (UIUC) sort of combined those two rolls into one.

A flagship public university usually projects a state wide image, full degree offerings, a heavy research component, a strong economic influence on its state, large student body, high academics.

I would consider both U-M and MSU to be flagships, that Michigan is a state with two. I'm not suggesting that U-M isn't one of the highest ranked public universities in the nation (usually seen in an elite trio with Cal and UVa). But I'm suggesting that both universities fit that "flagship" definition. MSU has gone way past its land-grant status and carries a full range curricula, including medicine and law. It is also far more centered for students from Michigan and has the state's largest enrollment.

Would i be right that Michiganders see both U-M and MSU as their flagship state universities, or do you think most people consider U-M to be the only one? Seems to me that U-M and MSU are an awful lot alike (based on the criteria I mentioned above) which makes them flagships while the other universities (CMU, EMU, WMU, WSU, Mich Tech, etc.) are not the same sort of institutions.
edited July 2012
35 replies
Post edited by edsg25 on
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Replies to: Does Michigan have one flagship (U-M) or two (U-M, MSU?)

  • HumanoidHumanoid 161 replies2 threads Junior Member
    My understanding is that within the state they are both seen as flagships, it is getting to the point were within the region they are too. Within the country, though, only U of M is seen as a flagship though this may change soonish.
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  • floridadad55floridadad55 2192 replies70 threads Senior Member
    I don't agree that Michigan State is a "flagship".

    Look at the stats and you will that Michigan State is shockingly easy to get into.

    I would say that the Michigan State/University of Michigan situation is comparable to a Florida State/University of Florida situation.

    Or a North Carolina State/UNC situation.
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  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes 34216 replies770 threads Senior Member
    MSU is NOT "shockingly easy" to get in to.

    Yes, many people do see MSU as a 2nd flagship considering it's ranked higher than many other flagships. It's obviously not as highly ranked at U of M, but it is definitely seen as "up there". I don't put much stock in US News, but U of Florida is ranked only ~10 places higher than MSU (58 vs 71) whereas FSU and NC State is ranked 30 places below (both 101). I wouldn't call that an accurate comparison.
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  • edsg25edsg25 19 replies5 threads New Member
    i have to agree with romanigypsyeyes, who i think is right on point.

    let's state some some basics: the Big Ten Conference is the only D-1 conference from top to bottom that can offer the array of universities it does; none of the others can say that. well, at least that was true. i don't mean this as a slur, but UNL (which is a fine school) is not in the same caliber as the other member institutions.

    i'd agree, too, with romanigypsyeyes that USN&WR is suspect, as are all such rankings. still as the one that seems to be the most respected, MSU is a higher ranked public university than what would be considered the #1 public flagship in more than half our states.

    again, i would assert that being a "flagship" indicates a certain type of institution, not necessarily the #1 ranked in state. that's because each state is different. as noted, UW-Madison and UIUC are their state's initial public university and land-grant combined, while in states like Indiana (IU, Purdue) and Michigan (U-M, MSU), the initial university and the land-grant were two different institutions.
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  • zapfinozapfino 2715 replies122 threads Senior Member
    Yes, both UM and MSU are flagship universities in their State.
    Unlike, many of the landgrant universities in the several other states that have a separate landgrant university and another major public research university, MSU has size, breadth/depth across non-ag and engineering disciplines, a full array of professional schools (including medicine and law), extensive graduate programs, and a high level of research activity. All these factors make it a flagship in its State. While it is not at the same level of academic quality and prestige as UM, nonetheless, it is a flagship. It was also the first ag college in the country, established even before the Morrill Act.
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  • edsg25edsg25 19 replies5 threads New Member
    nothing speaks to zapfino's observations more than the name changes the university has gone through:

    Name changes
    Month........Day...Year..Name change
    February.....12....1855..Agricultural College of the State of Michigan
    March.........15....1861..State Agricultural College
    June............2.....1909..Michigan Agricultural College (M.A.C.)
    May............ 1....1925..Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied .................................Science (MSC)
    July...................1955..Michigan State University of Agriculture and .................................Applied Science (MSU)
    January..............1964..Michigan State University (MSU)

    the last being the most significant. (in contrast, Ia St U is still Iowa State University of Science and Technology)

    part of what he describes comes from the notion that Michigan is not typical of many states that had two major schools, the Univ. of ____ and ____ State Univ.

    Michigan is in the northeast quadrant of the nation and it and Indiana are the only states in this part of the nation where two major universities developed and reached the level of status they did. In Indiana, both IU and Purdue grew to similar to status because of the way they divided their curricula, arguably more so than any other city: the two merely took different directions. It wasn't only that Purdue specialized in the sciences, it was that IU did not offer them (best seen by IU not have an college of engineering). In Michigan, MSU acquired more of the wide breath of curricula that one would expect from a flagship (i.e., law and medicine, a rare combo at schools that fit that "second flagship" role).

    Point is, the northeast quadrant of the US is different from the rest of the nation, certainly more urbanized, certainly more in need of offering its student population more than one flagship due to shear numbers of students in state and the careers they will be going into.

    Thus the U-M/MSU relationship differs from more agrarian states west of the Mississippi and south of the Ohio where the lines of distinction are far greater in the mission of the two universities. I'm thinking of UIowa/IaSt, KU/K-State, OU,OkSt, OleMiss/MissSt, Ore/OreSt, /UWash/WSU, CU,CoSt,etc.

    In some states (unlike Michigan, where the two schools are fairly close together and grew to the overlapping curriculum and service to the state in time), it was geographic considerations that led to two flagships: California would be that case. Huge California (in both size and population) would never had gotten by with one flagship institution, so in essence each half of the state has one of its its flagships: Northern California and the Bay Area gets Cal, Southern Califronia and Metro LA gets UCLA. In Nevada, Vegas and Reno are two world apart, and virtually the only populated parts of their state; in Nevada, each region literally has its own flagship and related mainly to that school: UNR in the north and UNLV in the south. Nevada is unique: it's growth pattern in the post WWII years saw the Vegas area at the southern tip of the state explode in population and completely change the nature of the state. The older institution, UNR, moved into the shadow of the newcomer, UNLV as Reno went from core to outlier in the state and Las Vegas made the reverse trip. In sports, for example, no original flagship is so challenged to hold on to its state name, in this case "Nevada" for UNR...."Nevada" never appears on sports pages in Vegas...they use UNR for it, just as UNLV fights to make it be.

    Texas is loaded with public universities, but the state itself has readily declared and operates with the notion that two of them....UT Austin and TAMU....are the flagships, while others (i.e. Houston and Texas Tech) fight to be raised to "third flagship status")

    I suppose the closest relationship to U-M/MSU would be UF/FSU and UA/ASU.
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  • edsg25edsg25 19 replies5 threads New Member
    an added thought on above:

    most important: every state is different. some are structured and better served with one flagship, some with two. And Texas feels it may need three.

    It doesn't work well for Illinois. Illinois is the midwest's largest state and UIUC is its only flagship. Champaign is a place that literally has had little room for out-of-state students, yet maintains an incredibly gifted in state enrollment due to the demographic conditions of both university and state. Illinois desperately needs a second flagship; who knows, in time, maybe UIC will rise to the status which would make sense due to the Chicago location. Meanwhile, Illinois students crowd schools like IU and UIowa and even UW-Madison with many heading to MSU, U-M, and Purdue, as well, as the stop stifles their options with UIUC being the sole flagship. UIUC and UW-Madison are peer institutions, but UIUC is harder to get into not because it is a better school (it's not and nobody in Illinois would argue a lower status for UW-Madison which is HIGHLY DESIRABLE) but because Illinois's population so exceeds Wisconsin's that the pressures on UIUC far exceed UW-Madison when it comes to enrollment (and UIUC gets hurt by not getting all that delicious out-of-state tuition that the typical B10 school gets).

    Illinois would have been much better off it it had a U-M/MSU set up. Suburban Detroit kids are far better served than suburban Chicago kids in this respect.
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  • shyanneshyanne 857 replies18 threads Member
    But why does it even matter?
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  • edsg25edsg25 19 replies5 threads New Member
    it matters as a descriptor more than anything else. it identifies a type of university that gives insight into how it functions and what it would be like to be a student there.

    what i don't think it does well is in creating some sort of pecking order in state. it does better when you look at these institutions as a group and what makes them tick.

    if you look at the midwest and compare the schools in the Big Ten (excluding Northwestern, of course) with those in those the MAC, you can see the type of schools that exclusively make up the Big Ten's public universities: large state flagship schools which, by definition, have high academic standards, give a state wide image, offer the most advanced degrees, are research centers, and offer economic benefit to their states.

    The MAC schools do not fall into that category and present a different image. But different is not worse. It merely means their scope is different. In Ohio, it would be hard to argue that Miami and Ohio offer as good an education as OSU (and perhaps even better). It's just that Ohio and Miami are different types of schools than OSU....and you will find many students, top ranked students, who choose Miami because they wanted a different environment.
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  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes 34216 replies770 threads Senior Member
    Shy, it doesn't much matter to me until people start comparing MSU to much lower ranked schools. MSU is a fine school that is often overshadowed by U of M and it irritates me when people say things like what FD did.
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  • edsg25edsg25 19 replies5 threads New Member
    romanigypsyeyes, MSU has a burden that few schools have. It shares its state with U-M. If there are any state schools out there that can take the oxygen out of the air for other in-state schools, those would be Cal, U-M, and UVa.

    What's amazing is that MSU holds it own in so many ways against a school of U-M's caliber. Keep in mind if the other in-state public university were IU, or U of M-Twin Cities or UIowa (and that's just Big Ten country, rather elite as a group; so many more around the nation), MSU would be seen completely on par.

    I don't think many universities can stand up to the likes of the Univ of Michigan as an instate partner as MSU does.
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  • shyanneshyanne 857 replies18 threads Member
    I agree with you, Romani.
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  • gvnee89gvnee89 158 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I personally do not think Michigan State University is a "flagship" university. Yes, it is a good school and has a lot of good programs but the "flagship" designation is reserved for the most prestigious and well known school in the state. Obviously, University of Michigan Ann Arbor would be the "flagship" of Michigan. Also, "flagship" universities usually take the top students in the respective state. While MSU has a lot of top in state students, so do other colleges in Michigan (Grand Valley State University, Michigan Technological University, Hillsdale College, Hope College, Kalamazoo College). At the University of Michigan, the in state students are only the top students in Michigan. Michigan is different that Indiana because IU-Bloomington and Purdue complement each other. IU is strong in business and liberal arts while Purdue is strong in engineering and other STEM fields. U of M and MSU don't really have the same type of relationship. Also, IU and Purdue both have about 60-65% in state students while University of Michigan has around 62% and Michigan State is all the way up at about 80-85% in state students. However, MSU is getting more foreign students which helps out the college. In terms of selectivity, really the only public university that is tough in admissions would be University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Like I said, MSU is a good college but I don't think it is quite the flagship of Michigan. As for the comment about other states flagships, that doesn't say much because a lot of states simply do not have good colleges.
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  • gvnee89gvnee89 158 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Also, the comment comparing OSU to Miami Ohio is a decent comment. From what I know of Miami Ohio, they concentrate on undergraduate education. Therefore, I would rather go to a school that focuses on the undergrad like Miami Ohio than a huge research and graduate focused institution like Ohio State. Most of the U.S. News rankings and other college rankings focus on research. For most undergraduate programs, quality in research does not necessarily correlate with quality of education in the undergraduate programs. I've heard multiple times that a lot of "flagship" professors send their kids to smaller liberal arts colleges that concentrate on undergraduate education. I think these professors know a lot more about higher education that pretty much anyone on this college confidential.
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  • floridadad55floridadad55 2192 replies70 threads Senior Member
    From us news 2010:

    Um

    Acceptance rate 42 percent

    Msu

    Acceptance rate 70 percent

    Um

    92 percent in top 10 percent of high school class


    Msu

    31 percent


    Um

    Act 27/31


    Msu

    Act 23/27

    Argument over!!!!!!!!1
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  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes 34216 replies770 threads Senior Member
    Again, if you want to use US News, MSU is ranked 71. U of Florida, 58. FSU, 101. Which is MSU more on par with?

    No argument, really.
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  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes 34216 replies770 threads Senior Member
    Btw, the UM acceptance rate was over 50% until they switched over to the common app IIRC.
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  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes 34216 replies770 threads Senior Member
    I hate making multiple posts, but I'm on my phone so can't edit. No one is arguing that MSU is equal to U of M, but it's true that people see MSU as a second flagship considering it outranks many other flagships. In Michigan, we're quite fortunate to have two public schools ranked in the top 75 of schools in the country.
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  • edsg25edsg25 19 replies5 threads New Member
    romanigypsyes, i have the sense that floridadad is totally missing that nobody is arguing about U-M's high standards. In fact, you yourself pointed them out and I did the same my mentioning that U-M is really part of an apex of public universities shared with Cal and UVa.

    again, he misses the point. the issue is not so much how MSU stacks up against U-M (which is extraordinary competition that few could stand up to), but whether it structured like a flagship: state wide image, large student body, full range of degree offerings, heavy research component, engine of economic growth for state, etc.

    and to do this, MSU should not be compared only to U-M: it should be compared with such schools across the nation. As you note, there is nothing about UF that would make MSU its inferior; they are similar institutions.

    and the snapshot we really wish to make with the notion of "flagship" is which schools portray those attributes across the nation. They are a TYPE of institution, something that goes far beyond rank order. as I noted, all public universities in the Big Ten fit the flagship description. And it would be accurate to refer to the Big Ten as a conference made up of 11 flagship state universities and a private university in the form of Northwestern. It's a recognition that MSU shares a lot with similar conference schools like Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue, UNL, OSU, PSU,etc.

    Here's something else that Floridadad ignoes completely: U-M, arguably more than any other public university in the nation (along with UVa), operates in this nether region between public and private. It gets minimal funding from the state. Those high admission standards? Part of them come from the fact that U-M does not see educating the young adults of Michigan nearly the same way MSU does. U-M's exclusivity comes from the wide range of applicants because it takes in so many out-of-state students.

    I don't know if these stats are available, but I suspect that if you looked at the class rank of kids coming from Michigan high schools, there would be more similarity between U-M and MSU than the stat's that come from all incoming freshmen, regardless if they are in-state or not.

    Point is, MSU chooses to function more as a state university than U-M does.
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  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes 34216 replies770 threads Senior Member
    Yes, it is a good school and has a lot of good programs but the "flagship" designation is reserved for the most prestigious and well known school in the state.

    Not always. Are you really going to tell me that California only has one flagship? That Indiana only has one flagship?

    No one is claiming that MSU is THE flagship. The question was whether or not it is seen as a second flagship. The argument is that yes, it is, considering it outranks many other state flagships.
    Also, IU and Purdue both have about 60-65% in state students while University of Michigan has around 62% and Michigan State is all the way up at about 80-85% in state students.

    Yes, because MSU is interested in being a STATE school whereas Michigan is more interest in being a NATIONAL school. Nothing wrong with either model. MSU could easily have the same percentage of IS and OOS students as U of M but that's not their goal.
    In terms of selectivity, really the only public university that is tough in admissions would be University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

    What? Do you mean in Michigan or in the US in general? Really, both ways are false, but I'm curious as to which one you mean.
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