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Published: Friday, 5/3/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

University of Toledo says low ratings of its professors is just ‘nonsense’

Think tank’s listing ranks faculty 20th-worst in survey

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, University of Toledo president, denounces ‘25 Universities with the Worst Professors,’ which lists UT as No. 20. Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, University of Toledo president, denounces ‘25 Universities with the Worst Professors,’ which lists UT as No. 20.
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Even with the relationship between University of Toledo President Lloyd Jacobs and faculty seemingly frayed over proposed academic budget cuts, workload increases for faculty, and a recent less-than-stellar review of him by the Faculty Senate, the school’s longtime leader came to the defense of his professors Thursday.

Dr. Jacobs blasted the Washington-based Center for College Affordability and Productivity — which he called a “so-called education think tank” — for besmirching UT professors as some of the worst in the country in a list that was covered nationally by some media outlets.

He called the list a joke, laughable, and nonsense. “The real purpose of my speaking to you today is to say thank you to our faculty,” Dr. Jacobs said during a news conference. “The fact of the matter, in my opinion at least, the University of Toledo is one of the best values in higher education, literally, in the country.”

He said UT has a “low-cost-of-living, modest tuition, and a fantastic faculty who are experts, deeply committed, and here for students on daily basis.”

Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, did not return phone calls and an email seeking comment. The group compiled a list of schools with the best and worst professors by using teacher ratings posted on the Web site RateMyProfessors.com, which is used by millions of college students in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy was listed as the school with the lowest-rated professors. UT was ranked 20th on the list.

“The methodology was not just flawed. ... The methodology did not exist,” Dr. Jacobs said. “Anybody with an ounce of ability to think critically would immediately reject that listing.”

He said there were problems with the group’s source data based on who goes to RateMyProfessors.com and other problems with small numbers of students rating some schools.

“So the output of this so-called analysis is not just faulty, it’s not just flawed. Frankly, it is a joke,” Dr. Jacobs said. “It has no validity. I assume if those good people put it out, they meant it as a joke. It’s laughable. It’s nonsense. It has no validity whatsoever.”

RateMyProfessors.com showed 1,458 UT professors with an average of 3.65, which is based on a five-point scale. Students can rate professors on the Web site in three areas: helpfulness, clarity, and easiness. The overall quality score is determined by averaging the helpfulness and clarity ratings.

Kayann Walter, 23, a senior at UT, said she also thought the list was a joke and not scientific.

“I don’t agree with it for a second,” she said. “I think we have phenomenal staff.”

In comparison, Kent State University was listed on RateMy-Professors.com with an average of 3.69 for 2,180 professors; Bowling Green State University had an average of 3.69 for 1,807 professors, and the University of Michigan had an average of 3.75 for 3,575 rated professors. Those were not on the Center for College Affordability and Productivity’s Top-25 list of schools with worst professors.

Dr. Jacobs said the list is ludicrous, one reason being that Stanford University was listed as having the best professors by Rate-MyProfessors.com. It has a 3.9 average out of 5 on RateMyProfessors.com compared with UT’s 3.65 rating.

Harvey Wolff, president of the UT chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said he agreed with the president.

“Certainly that Web site, Rate-MyProfessors.com, has a lot of issues,” Mr. Wolff said. “It certainly doesn’t give an overall view like a student evaluation at the end of a semester would do. I agree with him that it is highly questionable.”

Some universities on the Top-25-worst-professors list specialize in science, technology, and engineering.

The other top-five schools on the list were Michigan Technological University, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Milwaukee School of Engineering, and New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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