Flyover ag school quits pretentious DC lobbying group

InsideHigherEd has the story:

Iowa State University announced Thursday that it is leaving the Association of American Universities.

The news revived a debate over the AAU’s membership criteria.

“While the university’s core values have not changed since joining the association in 1958, the indicators used by AAU to rank its members have begun to favor institutions with medical schools and associated medical research funding,” said an Iowa State statement on its departure. (University leaders said they made the decision to withdraw.)

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23 Responses to Flyover ag school quits pretentious DC lobbying group

  1. Anas clypeata says:

    You can’t fire me, because I quit!

  2. Dogmatic Ratios says:

    In a decent world, every university would have a medical school, and there would be a university in every small city. If the AAU was a moral organization, it would help universities find the funding to create medical schools.

    • Anonymous says:

      In a decent world, most organizations would be moral and most
      collectives of people would be the same.

      • Fishwrapper says:

        We have that now. Ask every organization and collective out there, and they will all assure you they act based on their morals. Therein lies the rub: whose morals…?

    • CSN says:

      Why does every university need a medical school? Why does every small city need a university? I’m confused…

      • ODA says:

        I am not sure if every small city needs a University. But one large medical school in Oregon seems to serve itself more than the state of Oregon. I think we could do with another medical school in Corvallis or Eugene and another rural one in Bend or La Grande. So if OSU East and Eugene both got a medical school would that be bad?

        • CSN says:

          There are benefits to agglomeration — more concentration of instruction and research means less administrative overhead, more possibilities for specialization at the individual faculty level and breadth at the department/school level, opportunities for mixing of interests, standardization of curriculum, etc.

          I don’t know enough about OHSU to know what is working or not working there, but I’m not sure what would be the big value-add of having another medical school in the state would be other than cutting off commute times (so to speak) for some med students.

          • ODA says:

            OHSU is a fine school. They even produce a useful Fact Book like the old OUS Fact Book.

            A quick look says they enrolled about 150 new MD students in fall 2020 68% of which are Oregon Residents, and they minted 158 new doctors (MD) that same year.

            OHSU is highly selective enrolling 150 doctors out of 6700 applications. Perhaps Oregon could take three times that per year, and maybe a few more will stay in their community if they can.

            Looking at OHSUs $3.3 Billion in revenue on $78 Million in state support. I have to think that there are benefits in a distributed University Medical system throughout the state: better health care in the state; more access to those great doctors; more residents becoming doctors; more rural doctors and dollars staying in the state?

            By rank OHSU is a great med school, and they have a great nursing school.
            OHSU builds great buildings and cool aerial trams that fly the important people overhead from the mountain to their formerly worthless brownfield-gone-condo riverfront garden. I am sure the doctors they train leave Oregon to go on to do great things. And the top flight doctors they bring to Oregon are a great boon for those who can actually get in to see one.

      • Compulsory Pessimist says:

        I can’t speak for Dogmatic Ratios, but the sheer lack of adequate numbers of medical personnel everywhere across the country horrifies me. Having more medical schools would turn out more medical professionals, which we desperately need.

        • CSN says:

          Oh I agree with you about the medical personnel thing. There’s just a ton of overhead with opening new schools — seems like expanding existing ones might be easier.

  3. Slowly Boild IT Duck says:

    Most of the people that consider Iowa to be “flyover country” also consider Eugene to be “flyover country”. Not sure I’d go there.

    Also, Iowa State might be behind UO, but not by a large margin.

    • Townie says:

      The AAU could very well disband. Public universities, like Oregon, are very different from places like Caltech or Dartmouth. Being a member of such a club likely corrupted UO.

  4. Townie says:

    UO should have left the AAU a long time ago (maybe 1997?) and focused its meagre state support and robust fundraising towards being the best undergraduate focused West Coast public research university. Small classes, low faculty:student ratio, decent facilities, strong Oregonian enrollment etc.

    • Dog says:

      You are describing what the UO was like in the 1980s and it was
      on that trajectory. Measure 5 came in 1990, the cotton bowl win
      came in 1994 and everything changed …

      • Townie says:

        I thought budget cuts started in the 80s? UO needed the Department of Energy to fund the Science Complex according to one source.

        • Dog says:

          yes there were smaller budget cuts in the 1980s but Measure 5
          was a disaster for UO morale and “vision” and in my personal opinion I don’t think the UO has recovered from that. Two major things happened with the passage of measure 5

          1) The College of Education was forced to close (yes it later
          reconstituted itself into a new form and that new form is highly
          specialized buy also pretty successful – but like the law school
          it seems most disconnected from the rest of UO).

          2) We started to become a tuition driven undergraduate university dependent on out of state students and not a research University with a healthy percentage of graduate students.

          To pick some snap shot numbers

          1985 Resident UG, 10000 Nonresident 2000 Grads 3900 ~ 1/3

          2015 : 11,000 ; 9500; 3600 ~ 18% (well below AAU average)

          (side note: the % of PHD grad students is very low – most of our grad students are masters and those INCLUDE law students).

          3. Do some research on the Centers for Excellence program started in the mid 1980s to hire 100 UO faculty – mostly in the sciences, to populate the new 32 year old science complex. About 1/2 the hires our of that 100 were made by 1990 – then
          measure 5 passed and very few (<10) more hires were made.

          So, yes, Measure 5 in my view completely changed the nature
          and trajectory of the UO.

          • Townie says:

            I’d love if you could expand on the COE closing and becoming more specialized, but disconnected from UO.

            • Dog says:

              I am not a good source for this as I was not here at the time.
              And it can be argued if closure actually occurred. What seems to have happened is this.

              a) Measure 5 property tax limitation severely affected Oregon K12 school funding

              b) prior to its Passage UO ed school was broad and very much involved with teacher training. Teacher training potentially involves a lot of other units in a University so its a broad mission.

              c) the shock effect of passage was large – about 60% of the faculty of the college of ed just left and there was a huge
              drop in the number of students – so it was limp open, I guess

              d) the school then quickly redefined itself to focus on special needs and became much narrower, but highly successful in this niche.

              • Townie says:

                Was it a strong College of Ed before the cuts?

                • Dog says:

                  I don’t know what “strong” means. It did its mission well
                  before the cuts, after the cuts, new mission, which is also
                  does well.

        • Dog says:

          oh yeah, and most of the science complex was funded out of pork
          under Senator Mark Hatfield – although it might be difficult to now
          verify the above statement. Some Old timers might be able to
          remember some of this and contribute in a way that is hopefully not revisionist.

          But my bottom line is simple – in the 1980s (I was not here then at all) the University of Oregon a) principally served Resident
          Undergraduate students and b) had a very healthy percentage of
          research grad students.

          Of course, in the 1980s the UO had one of the worst W/L records in both Football and Basketball …

          • Townie says:

            Thanks for the summary.

            Now imagine if all that private fundraising activity, over $4.5b since 1992, went to help prop up UO’s state appropriation in the form of an endowment. Even $1b would go very far and would likely help UO cut OOS enrollment.

  5. anon says:

    In 2014 the NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION sponsored a report that put forth new criteria for education excellence in higher education and framed in terms for the values expressed by AAU. The report was quite critical of AAU. It is worth reading.
    It is here:

    Funny thing about the report was ASU was the highest ranked non-AAU school according to the new criteria. And if one looks at the donor list to New America Foundation, ASU is a big donor.