NORTHFIELD, MN—The recent release of the 2014 US News & World Report’s institutional rankings has recognized St. Olaf College as the overall worst college in Northfield, MN for the 140th consecutive year. The ranking comes as a major disappointment to the college, whose primary goal over the past year was to distance themselves from their reputation as the second-best academic institution in the rural town of 20,000 residents.
“This is yet another monumental disappointment for us,” said Dean of Students Ross Eieten-Biens in a brief interview outside the college’s Boe Memorial Chapel, which was recognized as the ugliest collegiate place of worship in the area. “If St. Olaf, as an institution of higher learning, can’t move from last place in such a small community, we truly have no hope for developing a positive national reputation.” St. Olaf fell below the 50th percentile for the Northfield area in each of the four major institutional metrics: academics, facilities, student life, and return on investment (ROI).
“Over this institution’s 140 years, we have repeatedly tried—and failed—to bring ourselves out of the bottom half of Northfield-area colleges.” Dean Eieten-Biens discussed a “crisis of identity” sweeping the college, which was “wasted countless millions through the years to improve facilities, student life, and academic funding. Our inability to fall anywhere other than last place in any major institutional ranking for even the sparsely-populated Northfield area has driven Oles to ask, ‘what is all this even for?’”
University of Minnesota Professor of Higher Education Angela Mathers commented on St. Olaf’s struggle: “This is truly unheard of. Year-to-year fluctuations in quality and reputation are ‘business as usual’ in this industry. Yet, St. Olaf is this great anomaly. The stagnancy of the area’s academic rankings transcends traditional collegiate market forces. St. Olaf is, quite simply, the worst.”
According to Gustavus Adolphus College Professor of Management Casey Treheim, Twin Cities area alumni of the college are striking the St. Olaf name from their résumés to prevent association with a college unable to remain competitive even in their local market.
The University of Phoenix is also boasting the transfer of over 300 current St. Olaf students to their online programs to earn undergraduate diplomas with some degree of credibility.
At press time, an emergency meeting of the college’s faculty senate had been called to rename the institution “Northfield Community College.”
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