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April 11, 2014

BOB ZALTSBERG: IU should ask for a recount after influence ratings

School's living alumni least influential of Big Ten?


OK, it’s important to note this column is originating in the home of what Time considers the least influential university in the Big Ten. I didn’t know Indiana University had that dubious standing when I checked to see how much more influential IU is than rival Purdue — which it’s not, according to Time. In fact, the magazine says based on its living alumni, Purdue is 1.41 times more influential than IU. That prompted a search against the University of Illinois, which, it seems, is 2.0 times more influential than IU. OK, what about Michigan State? It’s 2.05 times more influential than IU.

Knowing the University of Michigan’s reputation, it wasn’t surprising based on those other match-ups that it was considered well ahead of IU — but 7.07 times more influential? That seems pretty excessive. Northwestern also has a great reputation, and Time said it’s 2.2 times more influential than IU. Wisconsin’s pretty renowned, and Time says it’s 3.0 times more influential than IU.

Next to be compared was the University of Nebraska, which recently lost membership in the American Association of Universities, a prestigious consortium of academic institutions that includes IU. Time says the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is 1.16 times more influential than IU. Adding to the oddity of all this, Time does say IU is more influential in a comparison with simply the University of Nebraska. But IU-Bloomington is considered less influential than simply IU.

Go figure.

The rest of the Big Ten: Ohio State, 2.62 times more influential than IU; Minnesota, 2.37 times; Penn State, 1.78 times; and Iowa, 1.37 times.

I was reading this on April 1, so maybe it’s all a joke. Consider the “starting lineups” for IU vs. Purdue, listing Time’s five “notable” alums on each side:

For IU, James Watson, Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist and co-discoverer of DNA; Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia; Evan Bayh, former Indiana governor and U.S. senator; sports broadcast legend Dick Enberg and former CIA director Gates.

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