Innovation ..UW #4 among universities in the world, #1 among US Public Universities

This awesome achievement is one our state should not only cherish but build upon 

 The SWU post is pure Tea party Warhawk rhetoric. It mirros Netnyahu's bizarre effort to turn Israel into a protectorate of right wing American evangelicals who see us a fodder for their Armageddon.

One UW colleague recently said I am seen as a “lightening rod.” Well, I hope that reputation comes with an understanding of my pride in the UW. So, it is with great pride I want to direct you all to the recent ranking the UW received as #4 amongst all universities in the world! This was not the usual popularity contest. Instead Reuters made an objective effort to measure innovation … using productivity in terms of papers, new ideas, patents!  While puffing out my chest, can I express some thoughts on what this should mean: 1. I do not see this as being sustainable in a university whose future is increasingly determined by professional administrators. The faculty deserves a much bigger, more professional role in governance, independent from but alongside the salary issues that are driving many of us toward forming a trade union. 2. There is far too much focus on the numbers of diplomas the UW generates. Our state is blessed with many outstanding institutions that do education very well and do so for fewer dollars per head than is possible at the UW. BUT … Washington state, indeed the entire Pacific Northwest, has only only one UW. Put differently .. we are a sustainable natural resource that needs to be nurtured.


Reuters may have offered me a simple way to explain why the UW is so important to our state.   That great news agency has just rated us as #4 in “innovation” amongst all the universities in the world, #1 among America’s public colleges … even above the University of California system with its five great state schools!

I get upset when I hear the legislators discuss the UW in terms of the number of diplomas we issue … or  worse, the records of the Husky football and basketball teams.  

I try to explain that great universities exist as places where students come to learn from very smart (and hopefully intellectually generous) experts. I try to explain that our faculty should exist not just for the students but as a renewable resource or our state’s arts, business, government and …. yes, for the innovation that has made Seattle a mecca for the new economy.

Reuters’ ranking really surprised me.  How can this one campus surpass the mighty Berkeley with its sisters in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Davis???   Here in the US, with all the limitations of a pubic university, we outranked all of America’s elite private schools other than Harvard, MIT and Stanford.  We even outranked Oxford, Cambridge, and the Sorbonne.

Reuters uses the term “innovation” to mean that an organization regularly produces new ideas or unique products; that its internal policies and practices are significantly different from the competition; and that members are encouraged to think creatively and pursue disruptive ideas.

There is a warning here.  While China, India, Singapore and other competitors are building greater universities, Japan and several American states under Republican budget cutters are dumbing their great universities down.  Washington State can not join the race to the bottom. 

(For a detailed of Reuters’ methodology, click here.)UW 1

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