The Rhode Island School of Design announced Monday that it will no longer participate in U.S. News & World Report’s undergraduate college rankings. Thus far, most of the colleges dropping out have been law and medical schools, although Reed College withdrew in 1995.
RISD president Crystal Williams said, “Principally, Rhode Island School of Design does not measure the value of our students or our academic programs based on the same factors used by U.S. News & World Report. Our educational model is predicated on three primary ways of learning: visual, material and intellectual. The value of our unique form of education can be seen and felt in the daily impact our students, alums, faculty and staff have on the world. In a recent survey, more than 80 percent of our alums said they were proud of and happy with their RISD education. And 90 percent believe their RISD education has been essential to their professional success. Alums also tell us that, on average, two-thirds of their work ‘makes the world a better place to live’—a powerful reminder of the altruism inherent in the RISD community on campus and beyond. We believe that these outcomes speak to the impact and effectiveness of a RISD education.”
Until last year, U.S. News categorized RISD and other art and design schools as “Specialty Schools: Art.” Under this heading, RISD’s undergraduate programs (reflecting 80 percent of matriculants) were unranked. However, and as a result of small curriculum changes to some of RISD’s programs, last year it was categorized as a “regional school.”
“As is often the case, change triggers important reflection and opportunities to reassess and revise a course of action,” said Williams. “So, while we ranked #3 out of 181 schools in the ‘Best Regional Universities North,’ a category placing us in comparison to institutions with which we share very little in common, this change by U.S. News catalyzed our deeper thinking about the ranking system overall, its relevance to RISD and our work as educators and the criteria used to create it. Many of those criteria have been written about in critical terms and publicly questioned, and are unambiguously biased in favor of wealth, privilege and opportunities that are inequitably distributed.”
U.S. News declined to comment.
A spokeswoman for RISD said she did not know of other undergraduate colleges that were about to announce changes in their policies on rankings. Williams said, “RISD’s institutional commitment to embodying the principles of social equity and inclusion also means that, where possible, we eschew participation in systems that strongly rely on exclusion and inequity. I hope many more will follow.”