Like a lot of regional universities, Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA is looking to boost its academic profile. So many institutions of higher education have made promises of future excellence that a new category has emerged: Wannabe U.
What distinguishes Christopher Newport University is how it’s opted to go about improving quality. A new set of guidelines under consideration would require departments to hire only faculty members with undergraduate and graduate degrees from schools ranked highly by the U.S. News and World Report survey.
This takes the prestige sweepstakes to an absurd level. Faculty in each discipline are best equipped to judge the qualifications of a job candidate. They know that some low-ranked institutions have outstanding training programs in certain areas. Also, they can recognize an outstanding candidate who for personal reasons decided to study at a less well-known institution.
We’re all guilty of matching the prestige of the institution to the trainees it produces. It’s an easy shorthand, but no substitute for rigorous evaluation.