Howard Fineman, one of the most partisan and least insightful political hacks in the media today, decided last year to chime in with his two cents about Penn State and the scandal surrounding Jerry Sandusky’s crimes. Not simply content with condemning the alleged malfeasance of a few bad actors, Fineman went “all in” and used the scandal as the opportunity to criticize Penn State as an academic institution:
And just what did all this fame gain Penn State or the cause of higher education? The school clawed its way from obscurity to mediocrity in the national academic rankings. It convinced the Big Ten Conference, with prestigious schools such as Michigan and Northwestern, to admit Penn State.
But especially for a school of its size and budget — it has the largest campus in the Northeast and the 10th largest in the country — Penn State doesn’t match its football team’s prominence in very many of its myriad classrooms.
I took a look at the U.S. News & World Report rankings to see where the school stood. Its professional schools are barely mediocre: Business ranks 44th, law ranks 76th, medicine is so obscure that I couldn’t find it on the published list. The school is in the top rank nationally in only a handful of disciplines: earth sciences, criminology, and industrial and nuclear engineering.
Penn State’s other major strength, at least until now, was in several sub-specialties of education: administration and supervision, counseling and personnel, educational psychology, and higher education administration.
Fineman, though, displays a stunning lack of self-awareness. Fineman has a bachelor’s degree from Colgate, a Masters degree from Columbia, and a JD from Louisville. Since Fineman focuses on graduate school, let’s compare how Penn State stacks up against Louisville (comparing Columbia, an Ivy, to Penn State is invalid):
||Penn State #76
||Penn State #35
||Penn State #44
||Penn State Unranked
And so, while Penn State could certainly improve its standing in terms of graduate education, with exception of Medicine, it leaves the University of Louisville far behind in its wake. And Fineman talks about frauds.
Well, today brings us even more irony as the Wall Street Journal has an expose arguing the value of an MBA may be declining and it uses University of Louisville graduates as its evidence. Yikes!
To borrow a line from the band Tool’s song “The Pot,” Mr. Fineman, you must have been high.