Many in higher education love to pick on the U.S. News rankings franchise—because it’s the dominant collegiate ranking, and because ordinal rankings seem somewhat arbitrary and are difficult to defend, says Daniel de Vise, columnist for the Washington Post. Yet, a U.S. News ranking provided part of the inspiration for a story in Wednesday’s Post about the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. For each of the last few years, U.S. News has listed the suburban campus among the nation’s top institutions for undergraduate teaching. The list is based on a survey of university presidents, provosts and admission deans, asking them to name schools they consider leaders in collegiate learning. What struck me about the ranking was the way UMBC stood out on the list. Here’s the rest of the top 10: Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale, Brown, Stanford, Berkeley, Notre Dame, Miami University and the College of William and Mary. All are actual Ivies, “Public Ivies” or Ivy-caliber institutions…

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