As I was browsing the internet, I came across this piece in the Deseret News about BYU. It’s pretty much just a piece of BYU salesmanship, highlighting BYU’s high place in a host of college rankings, so I didn’t think much of it until and one thing caught my eye: Forbes had BYU ranked as the the 40th best research university in the country.
Why does this matter? Well, BYU fans who were paying attention a few years ago remember that the reason cited by the PAC-12 for choosing Utah and Colorado over BYU was that BYU wouldn’t be a good fit because it isn’t a “research institution.”
Seeing Forbes rank BYU as the 40th best research university, then, made me wonder where they placed other PAC-12 schools. I expected to see most PAC-12 schools above or at least near BYU, but what I found shocked me. Here’s what I tweeted after seeing Forbes’s list:
— The Sports Bros (@SportsBros) February 3, 2015
Those are some pretty big disparities. By Forbes’s calculations, the PAC-12 has some explaining to do.
Now, I understand that Forbes probably isn’t considered an academically acceptable source for these kind of things, and I had a hard time nailing down Forbes’s methodology. So I kept searching to see what others have to say about BYU and research. The most reputable-looking source I could find was published by some professors at Arizona State University (fitting, no?). You can look at it here. I found another official-looking list here. Both of these reports listed BYU well below most of the PAC-12, and it appears that the bottom line is the amount of money schools spend on research. BYU lags behind in this aspect, even if it shines in other areas (for example, BYU ranks highly in doctorates awarded and national merit and achievement scholars).
Maybe Forbes was just throwing spaghetti at the wall when it created its list of top research universities. Or maybe–just maybe–Forbes dared to look at criteria other than money. In any case, I don’t think anyone bought the PAC-12’s excuse for snubbing BYU.