Michigan Tech Moves Up in US News Rankings

by Jennifer Donovan, director of public relations

Once again listed in the top tier of national universities, the University's overall undergraduate standing rose in US News & World Report's latest ranking of colleges and universities nationwide. In the 2011 "Best Colleges" report released today, Michigan Tech ranked 117th, along with the University of San Francisco and Loyola University in Chicago. Last year, Michigan Tech ranked 121st.

In the latest rankings, Michigan Tech ranked 57th among national public universities. Only two Michigan universities, the University of Michigan and Michigan State, ranked higher than Michigan Tech.

Michigan Tech also appeared on a list of "A-Plus Schools for B Students," a category comprising top-quality universities that also admit a significant proportion of students with ACT scores between 20 and 30, while at the same time maintaining a high retention rate.

Retention rates--the percentage of freshmen who return to campus for their second year and the percentage who graduate within six years--are considered important because they indicate how effective a school is at offering the classes and services that students need to succeed, the US News report explains.

"US News has recognized what those in academia and industry who are familiar with Michigan Tech already know that we are making significant progress toward our goal of becoming a world-class technological research university," said Provost Max Seel. "And designation as an 'A-plus school for B students' speaks to the attention our undergraduate students are receiving. It highlights the level and quality of our education and is an important indicator of student satisfaction."

Seel went on to say: "While we appreciate the recognition from the US News rankings, we know that the best measure is the success of our graduates. Last year, 87.5 percent of graduating students were hired or accepted to graduate school in their chosen field."

US News undergraduate rankings are based on data submitted by the schools and on the opinions of administrators at peer institutions. The quantitative data include graduation rate, average freshman retention rate, class size, SAT/ACT scores of entering students, the percentage of freshmen in the top 10 percent of their high school class, the institution's acceptance rate and average annual alumni giving.

US News decided to weight graduation rate performance more heavily than in the past. That statistic--which is the difference between predicted and actual graduation rates--now accounts for 7.5 percent of a school's final score. It used to account for 5 percent. At the same time, the opinions of administrators at peer institutions received a little less weight this year, dropping from 25 percent to 22.5 percent of the total score. For the first time, high school counselors were also asked their opinions.

In 2009--the year for which data was reported--Michigan Tech's actual graduation rate rose to 66 percent, one percentage point higher than the predicted rate of 65 percent. The previous year, the actual graduation rate was 65 percent. The University's acceptance rate dropped from 75 percent in 2008 to 73 percent in 2009, improving Tech's score. The lower the acceptance rate, the more selective the school's admissions process.

US News also ranks undergraduate engineering program and engineering specialties, based entirely on assessments by deans and faculty members at other engineering schools. Once again, Michigan Tech's undergraduate engineering program was ranked among the top 75 in the nation at universities that offer engineering doctorates.

The Leaning Tree Comes Down

by John Gagnon, promotional writer

The Leaning Tree, also known as the EERC Tree, was cut down early Tuesday morning, just after dawn. It was ailing, mostly brown instead of green. A big, native white pine, it graced the center of campus for who knows how long.

"We cut it down before it fell down," says John Rovano, director of Facilities.

Rovano says he might have to find someone to coordinate how the wood is used, for the downed tree yielded several logs that are in demand. Rovano says he's receiving requests for using the wood for benches in the Memorial garden; maybe a wood sculpture for the campus; or a decorative element in a fraternity. "It'll have more of a life after it's gone than before," Rovano jests.

He doesn't know whether the tree's location in the middle of the lower campus was "intentional or accidental." But, he adds, "We'll make its replacement a centerpiece."

The Grounds crew, then, will plant another white pine in its place. Facilities will bring water for irrigation and electricity for lighting, perhaps year-round. "We'll do the space some justice," Rovano says.

Forester/Lecturer James Schmierer (SFRES) says the tree is a remnant of extensive stands of large trees in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. He calls it "a long-lived species," reaching 300 years and more.

"Anytime you have an isolated tree surrounded by hardscape, it's a challenging environment," he says. Hazard tree removal? "Welcome to the world of urban forestry," he advises. He is gratified that it'll be replaced by another white pine.

He guesses that some people might be disappointed about cutting down this particular pine. (Just check out the Facebook and Twitter accounts to read comments from students and alumni.)

"People get sentimentally attached to big, old trees," he says. "Sometimes the emotions get overwhelming."

He sums up the situation as a balance between safety and visual impact.

"I've walked by that tree many times," he says. "It's a shame to see it go. But I put on my safety hat and I understand. There are people on campus who are responsible for safety. That can involve unpopular decisions, but you can't go against your mandate--your duties."

Over the years the Leaning Tree has garnered votes in queen competitions; it has been the subject of calculations and bets on when it would fall over. It was Tech's own Tower of Pisa.

Its start was modest, its life long, and its end abrupt. Once a landmark, it will now be a hallmark of the passage of time and the cycle of life, something that grew along with the institution. Mark Dion, a 1983 alumnus from Houston, says, "I recall the tree's big beauty. Such is life--an ending and a beginning."

Mike Hyslop (SFRES) has a cross section--called "a cookie"--of the tree. Using software, he will be able to count the rings to within a year or two. The big question: Is the tree as old as Tech?

Stay tuned.

Staff Council Meeting Set for Thursday

The Staff Council invites all to attend the first 2010-11 meeting at noon, Thursday, Aug. 19, in the Memorial Union Alumni Lounge A.

Staff Council meetings and membership are open to all university staff members.

The meeting includes a presentation/discussion with Susanna Brent, director of the Rozsa Center. The council will also discuss plans for the this academic year.

Refreshments are provided. For questions or comments, email the council at staffcouncil@mtu.edu .

Flags to be Flown at Half-Staff

Flags throughout Michigan will be flown at half-staff Thursday, Aug. 19, in memory of Army PFC Bradley Rappuhn, 24, of Grand Ledge, who died on August 8 in Zhari Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Georgia. Flags will return to full-staff Friday, Aug. 20.

Center for Diversity and Inclusion to Host Public Dialogue

The Center for Diversity and Inclusion will host a presentation, "Heart-to-Heart Conversations," by Executive Director of World Trust, Shakti Butler, at 2 p.m., Friday, Aug. 20, in Rehki G009.

Butler is a filmmaker, inspirational lecturer, and a powerful and dynamic educator in the field of racial equity. Her work moves conversations beyond black and white, and speaks to interconnections of racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia.

The presentation, "Heart-to-Heart Conversations," is a national program of public dialogue that speaks to critical social issues of race, gender, class and sexual orientation.

Job Posting

Staff job descriptions are available in Human Resources or at http://www.admin.mtu.edu/hro/postings . For more information regarding staff positions, call 487-2280 or email jobs@mtu.edu .

Faculty job descriptions can be found at http://www.admin.mtu.edu/hro/facpers/facvac.htm .

For more information regarding faculty positions, contact the academic department in which the position is posted.

Faculty Posting

Two Assistant/Associate Professor Positions
Biomedical Engineering
Tenure Track

Michigan Technological University is an equal opportunity educational institution/equal opportunity employer.


Shirley Perreault has retired from Dining Services, Wadsworth Hall Campus Cafe, and a celebration is planned from 1:30-2:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 20, in the Wadsworth Hall Dining Room. Cake and light refreshments will be served.

New Staff

Kate Panke joins the Office of Technology and Economic Development as the office assistant. Previously, she worked as an accounting associate for the Midwest Loan Service in Houghton. Panke graduated from Grand Valley State with a BBA in 2009 and currently resides in Houghton.