Paul L. Caron

Friday, July 17, 2009

What Caused Loyola-L.A.'s Fall in the U.S. News Rankings?

Loyola Brian Leiter reports on the plunge in Loyola L.A.'s academic reputation score from 2.6 in the 2009 U.S. News rankings (tied with Cincinnati, Houston, Indiana-Indianapolis, Rutgers-Camden, Rutgers-Newark, and Santa Clara) to 2.3 in the 2010 U.S. News rankings (tied with LSU, Louisville, Maine, Mercer, Mississippi, Missouri-Kansas City, New York Law School, St. John's, St. Louis, and Vermont).  Because academic reputation is the single biggest factor in the U.S. News methodology (25%), Loyola slipped in the overall ranking from 63 in 2009 to 71 in 2010.  Leiter reports that "only once in the last eight years did another school's peer reputation score drop that much."  The reason for the precipitous drop in academic reputation?  Leiter quotes an email from Loyola-L.A's Dean attributing the decline to U.S. News changing the way it listed Loyola on its academic reputation survey -- from "Loyola Law School" to "Loyola Marymount University."

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But if the decline is due solely to the name change, then that's further proof that the people being asked about academic reputation don't know anything about what they're rating at all and that the reputation factor is, as we've all suspected all these years, nothing more than brand-name prestige whoring.

Posted by: WL | Jul 18, 2009 9:42:00 PM

In fairness to Loyola, there is a historic underrating of Catholic universities in the United States, which makes somewhat credible the assertion that the addition of a second identifying word ("Marymount") made a difference.

Posted by: mike livingston | Jul 18, 2009 6:10:52 AM

Loyola Los Angeles, like so many other schools (San Diego, Rutgers Camden, etc.) is just one of those underrated schools that can't seem to get a break in U.S. News. Let's hope that the all the recent criticisms of U.S. News result in its marginalization as a credible resources for law school rankings...

The recent methodology change to include part time LSAT/GPA in the median may also have something to do with this, by the way. George Washington knows all about that...

Posted by: Bob | Jul 17, 2009 11:55:15 AM