OUR OPINION: Go Tiger academics

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

LSU is ranked for the second year in row in the first tier of “Best National Universities” by U.S. News & World Report in its 2010 edition of America’s Best Colleges.

While the rankings are based on data from 2008 and do not reflect budgetary cuts that will be coming, the news is still good.

What is important is that in the last five years LSU has improved in a number of areas that the magazine rankings consider important. These include LSU’s graduation rate which has risen from 57.5 percent in 2004 to 60.7 percent in 2008, as well as incoming freshman ACT scores that have increased from 24.5 in 2004 to 25.3 in 2008.

The magazine actually uses seven categories to rank academic quality of universities.

Included are assessments by administrators at peer universities, student retention, resources available to faculty members, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, and graduation rate performance which is the difference between the number of students who are expected to graduate and the proportion that actually does graduate.

Three things come to mind as we assess LSU’s academic improvement ranking.

First, incremental improvement over five years can only be the product of coordinated planning and effort. Incremental improvement encourages everyone at LSU to strive for and participate in a culture that demands  academic success. We commend everyone involved in LSU academics over the past five years, from administrators, faculty and students, on down, for helping build a ground floor foundation to achieve academic excellence.

Second, and we do not say this tongue in cheek, we cannot help but note that LSU’s slide in the polls that rank America’s top party schools coincides with LSU’s rise in the U.S. News and World Report university academic rankings. Perhaps this is coincidence, perhaps not.

Third, we thank Gonzales’ own Glenn Dorsey for setting an example by finishing his final year at LSU rather than dropping out of school and signing an early professional football contract. When an athlete of Dorsey’s caliber publicly recognizes the importance of education, everyone takes note. It goes without saying academic rankings improve when more athletes graduate from a university.

Congratulations, LSU, for establishing a new culture of academic success.