Magazine article Academe

Carnegie Classification Revises Standards

Magazine article Academe

Carnegie Classification Revises Standards

Article excerpt

AS IT APPROACHES ITS THIRTIETH birthday, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education is getting a facelift. The classification, which groups American colleges and universities according to their institutional missions, was begun in 1970 to help funnel public investment toward diverse types of institutions.

Revisions for 2000, which include scrapping evaluation of campuses' admissions selectivity and levels of federal research funding, precede a more thorough overhaul scheduled for 2005, according to Alexander McCormick, senior scholar at the Carnegie Foundation. The foundation will continue to use criteria such as the breadth of degrees institutions offer and the fields they cover to create its rankings.

While unwilling to talk about changes five years from now, McCormick gladly discusses the nearterm alterations. "Our major motivation for this edition was that the last was done in 1994 based on data from 1989 to 1992," says McCormick. Since then, the nation's strong economy and budget surpluses in several states have loosened the pinch on the purse strings at many campuses and ushered in a new era of private giving to some colleges and universities, altering their budget profiles and student enrollments.

And since the 1994 revisions, says McCormick, the foundation has become especially sensitive to "technical and philosophical" problems besetting its research, which underlies its rankings of individual schools. A major technical snarl facing the classification project, explains McCormick, was the need to discard a comprehensive gauge of research dollars once compiled by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Because the NSF now limits its data gathering to science and engineering, the Carnegie Foundation chose to abandon consideration of federal funding altogether in constructing its categories. …

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