From SACS Principles of Accreditation:

From SACS Principles of Accreditation: 3.2.11 The institution’s chief executive officer has ultimate responsibility for, and exercises appropriate administrative and fiscal control over, the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program. (Control of intercollegiate athletics)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Shocking (to some) Truth About UAB Academics

By Ralph Harbison
Mr. UAB 1994

It is assumed by many that UAB is not nearly as good a school as the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa or Auburn University. After all, the enrollment is a lot lower at UAB and has not changed as much over the last two decades as it has at the other two schools. Plus, if UAB was a better academic school, UAB would have a better football team that was supported by the fans.

According to many, that is 100 percent fact. UAB needed to drop football and focus on academics and research, per several members of the illustrious University of Alabama Board of Trustees and many of its sycophantic followers.

At UAB, we (students, faculty, staff and alumni; not necessarily administrators) value academics. More than that, we value the ability to research and separate fact from fiction. In doing some research and separating the fact from fiction, one of the multitude of #UABFAMILY on Twitter shared a link to the Center for World University Rankings for 2015.

According to its system, UAB is ranked 146th in the WORLD. Consider that for a minute. There are only 145 universities in the world ranked higher. To put that into other terms, if universities were companies, UAB is a Fortune 150 firm. That is a HUGE deal. The much higher quality schools in Tuscaloosa and Auburn were 409 and 549 respectively. Again, those are not bad rankings, but it does show how wonderful a degree from UAB actually is.

An excellent question is why is UAB not blowing the roof off of the urban myth of UAB being a second class institution? Since the UAB director of media relations is a University of Alabama graduate, letterman in basketball, and sits on of the advisory board of one of the schools at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, I know the reason and now you do, too.

The ranking was based upon several criteria, which are listed below from the CWUR website:

CWUR uses eight objective and robust indicators to rank the world's top 1,000 universities:

  1. Quality of Education, measured by the number of a university's alumni who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals relative to the university's size [25%]
  2. Alumni Employment, measured by the number of a university's alumni who have held CEO positions at the world's top companies relative to the university's size [25%]
  3. Quality of Faculty, measured by the number of academics who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals [25%]
  4. Publications, measured by the number of research papers appearing in reputable journals [5%]
  5. Influence, measured by the number of research papers appearing in highly-influential journals [5%]
  6. Citations, measured by the number of highly-cited research papers [5%]
  7. Broad Impact, measured by the university's h-index [5%]
  8. Patents, measured by the number of international patent filings [5%]

These criteria are actually a fair way to look at the schools. First, the schools are judged by the readiness of the graduates to perform in the world and to excel. Second, faculty are judged both by peer recognition and by output of research. This means that a school that is research heavy (like a UAB) is not judged only by the business school and a school known as a business school (like the University of Alabama) isn’t hurt by its lack of research. Yes, it does favor schools that do both, such as Harvard, Yale, and Oxford, but is there really any doubt that those are among the best schools in the world, anyway?

This is a huge deal for a school like UAB, a school that is abused and mistreated by its Board of Trustees and unappreciated in its home state. By the criteria used here, which are fair criteria, UAB is an excellent institution and provides an amazing opportunity, and a far better academic experience than either Tuscaloosa or Auburn.

But the UAB administration is not interested in letting people know that, especially the members of the Board of Trustees. The fact that the director of public relations is not on every news network and posting on every website about this is particularly telling. Does he not care about UAB’s reputation as an undergraduate university? Does he have an interest that lies elsewhere that prevents him from promoting UAB to the fullest level? Can we trust him to “sell UAB” at all times and in all ways?

Dr. Ray Watts and his owners were correct about one thing: there is a school that needs to stop worrying about football and focus on academics. They were incorrect about which school it is.

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