Nice while it lasted

The University of California still looks like an intellectual powerhouse.

The latest listing of the world’s knowledge factories, the Times (London) University World Rankings, shows the state of California owning two (Berkeley, UCLA) of the top twenty and five (adding Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Irvine) of the top 50. Davis and Santa Cruz area also in the top 100. Riverside comes in at 117.

There are, if I’m counting correctly, 16 American public institutions outside California among the 100 world leaders. So the weakest UC campus is way, way stronger than the flagship campus of the median state university.

Alas, these rankings are mostly backwards-looking, based on citations to papers written in the past. The current reality isn’t nearly as rosy. The UC system is now at what used to be called a “Soviet average”: not as good as last year, but better than next year.

So think of this as a monument to what is being lost. And of course the loss isn’t only California’s; producing that knowledge here and transmitting it to California students is good for the state, but the knowledge itself is a worldwide resource. In the name of “small government,” we’re eating our seed corn.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

2 thoughts on “Nice while it lasted”

  1. As a product of the University of California system, where not too long ago I received an excellent education for not really all that much money (still too much, probably, for a lot of poorer families to afford, but eminently accessible to the middle class), not a day doesn't pass that I don't weep internally for the enormous damage that's being done to higher education in the state.

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