The Annapolis Group, an organization of over 100 liberal arts colleges, recently made headlines when the majority of the college presidents attending its annual meeting agreed not to participate in the annual US News and World Report rankings. Swarthmore, which currently stands at #3 on US News’ list, shares some of the concerns that were discussed at the meeting but has no plans to pull out of US News.
President Al Bloom did not attend the meeting, meaning that Swarthmore had no official representative there. Provost Connie Hungerford did attend, “but only as an observer… in no way did I consider myself to be a representative.”
Hungerford described the vote taken at the meeting as “a straw poll taken to see where the sentiment lied… it was not in any sense meant to be a binding declaration.” Vice-President Maurice Eldridge agreed, writing in an e-mail that “I do believe that the media have not given a clear picture of the complexity of the issues nor of the widely divergent views represented at the Annapolis Group meeting.”
Hungerford explained that the Swarthmore administration has not yet come to a definitive position on the complex issue, or even discussed the issues extensively. “We as a senior staff haven’t met since Commencement.”
The Annapolis Group also announced an intention to develop an alternative format of providing statistical information to students and their families, one that will break down information clearly and that will not attempt to rank the colleges. Hungerford explained that this too was not a binding commitment, and that Swarthmore was still exploring the idea.
Haverford and Bryn Mawr, #9 and #20 respectively on the 2007 list, have also declined to make any sort of commitment so far.