Nancy Rapaport, UH Law Dean resigns, Rankings Blamed

As a newly admitted student at the University of Houston Law School, it’s more than a little disturbing to discover that the dean of the law school, Nancy Rapaport, has resigned due in some part to the programs 20 point fall in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of colleges and graduate schools since 2003. Rick Casey continues the Chronicle’s coverage with U.S. News skews rank of UH Law.

The notion of rankings has become a bit of a theme as I blogged just a few days ago on Mercer’s quality of living survey. Rankings do matter. They matter to law school deans, obviously. They matter most to prospective law students – by far the most neurotic and status-conscious society I’ve ever kept – for whom a few points in a ranking is likely to change the minds of more than a few. They matter to 3Ls (about to graduate) who are competing for jobs with graduates of other schools. The law school rankings have more than its fair share of detractors however, and I think this may add a little fuel to the fire.

Other bloggers weigh in Christine Hurt, Tom Kirkendall, Brian Leiter (Leiter’s explanation of the ranking’s methodology)

2 Comments so far

  1. Matt (unregistered) on April 20th, 2006 @ 5:02 pm

    Hey, are you going to UH? I was also accepted, but can’t decide between UH and a school in Sacramento (McGeorge). I visited UH twice (on open house day and admitted student day) and was greatly underwhelmed by the reception both times. But a lawyer I work for assures me that just because the admin put on a lackluster show does not mean the quality of education is correlated. I will admit that one of the few bright spots in the UH visits was the dean’s animated and intelligent presentation and Leiter makes a strong case.


  2. Susan (unregistered) on May 1st, 2006 @ 12:13 pm

    The US News rankings are bizzarrely imprecise for such a widely used tool, but they do indicate one thing to me: Given how much emphasis the rankings put on a school’s reputation among attorneys and judges, the shoddy quality of the school’s research and writing curriculum has finally come home to roost. Research and writing aren’t extras or add-ons to a legal curriculum, they are vital. They are what lawyers DO more than anything else. (Here is the only free advice you’ll ever get from a lawyer: choose the school with the best research and writing program available. It’ll serve you best in the long run)

    I can’t say I’m surprised by all this, but I am saddenned by the fact that Dean Nancy is taking the fall for it all. After all, Rome wasn’t destroyed in a day, and the faculty culture certainly hasn’t helped matters any.



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