When it was announced in November of 2012 that Rutgers University was invited to join the Big Ten, one thing that was said over and over by the Rutgers AD at the time, Tim Pernetti, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, and just about anyone you spoke with was that Rutgers was a good fit academically. All recognized that the sports side would take time to catch up to the rest of the conference. Although we are still waiting for that to happen, it is again clear that as an academic institution, Rutgers was clearly on a par with the rest of the schools in the Big Ten.
That point was reiterated on Tuesday when Rutgers posted this on Twitter:
That’s right, boys and girls, among the top Universities in the world, Rutgers-New Brunswick is ranked in the top 100! What’s more, this is a ranking that really counts. By that, I mean it is one that does not have its focus on things like the nicest dorm rooms, the best food, the best social environment, etc. Those things are important, and matter to students, but as a graduate, it becomes infinitely LESS important. What matters is the scholarly reputation of your alma mater. As stated at the beginning of the article on the ranking by the sponsoring organization, The Best Schools:
Some university rankings focus on factors unrelated to academic merit. Thus, some rankings of colleges and universities may give weight to attractiveness of campus, satisfaction of students and alumni, extracurricular benefits (such as top athletics programs), affordability of tuition, and expected income of graduates.
This is not such a ranking.
In contrast, if you are looking for a ranking with a focus on academic prestige, scholarly excellence, and sheer intellectual horsepower, then this is the ranking you want.
At the universities in this ranking, you will be mixing with the brightest faculty and students in the world, and developing your knowledge and skills so that you yourself will be in a position to join the world’s elite academics, scientists, and thinkers.
Where do we sit in this ranking? We sit in the top third of the top 100, at #32. Now, keep in mind that while there is not a definitive number worldwide of institutions of higher learning, there are well over 20,000 worldwide, and over 4,500 in the US alone. You can read the entire article, as well as the methodology employed, right here.
And, relating back to the point at the beginning of this article, we are in good company. Ten of the 14 member institutions in the athletic conference and the Big Ten Academic Alliance (the research arm of the B1G) are listed in the top 100 institutions world-wide. Here’s how they are ranked:
4th - University of Michigan
14th - University of Wisconsin- Madison
21st - University of Minnesota- Twin Cities
24th - Northwestern University
32nd - Rutgers University
34th - University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign
44th - University of Maryland
46th - Pennsylvania State University
84th - Ohio State University
100th - Michigan State University
Now this is pretty heady company, for sure. It is also worth noting that the Big Ten has a higher percentage of their schools in this group than any other athletic conference not named the Ivy League. Here’s the breakdown of the major conferences that had schools on the list, with the percentage of their member schools included in the rankings:
Big 10: 71%
PAC 12: 42%
Big 12: 10%
Mountain West: 9%
In this listing, I did not count Notre Dame, which ranked 69th, as part of the ACC, as they are not a full member of the conference. Any ACC fans out there upset and saying that isn’t fair, please note two things. First, that would have raised your percentage of schools to 57%, which would have left them still in third place. Secondly, I did not include Johns Hopkins, which ranked 19th, in the Big Ten list, for the same reason.
So, Rutgers fans, among the major athletic conferences in the United States, your beloved Scarlet Knights are a part of the best athletic, as well as the best academic conference in the country. Be proud!