Three local schools — James Madison University and the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and Georgetown in Washington — rank among the top 25 colleges in a new national survey by the popular student Web site RateMyProfessors.
The site asks students to rate their professors in helpfulness, clarity and “easiness,” and each year it produces a list of top professors and schools. Last year, a JMU psychology professor ranked top in the nation.
This year’s school ratings are apparently more meaningful, because they are based not just on professor ratings but also on separate campus ratings. Students are asked to judge reputation, location, social and professional opportunities and such.
The results are decidedly anti-elitist. Brigham Young University ranks No. 1 in the nation, followed by Florida State and the flagship public schools in Wisconsin and Michigan. Fine schools all, but no Ivy League school appears in the Top 25.
And why is that?
Pomona College President David Oxtoby offered a theory when I posed the question to him last year. Students at the most selective colleges might simply have comparatively high standards and expectations for their schools. Harvard and Yale may be the nation’s top universities, but the typical students at either school might rate it “average” on a survey because it fails to exceed their lofty hopes.
Be that as it may, many of the schools cited on the RateMyProfessors list are very prestigious institutions. They include Berkeley, the University of North Carolina and Clemson, in addition to the aforementioned local schools.
Local professors fared less well this year than last. I spotted just one on the list of Top 25 university professors: Lea Ramsdell, a language professor at Towson.
Two local community college professors ranked among the top faculty at two-year institutions: Margaret Bolton, a biology professor at the College of Southern Maryland, and Lawrie Gardner, an accounting professor at Anne Arundel Community College.
And let us not forget Daniel Gutstein, a writer who teaches at George Washington University and is rated the nation’s hottest professor.
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