Harvard's Image Declines

Michigan, MIT received more favorable coverage than University

Harvard is no longer the American university with the best public standing in the media, according to a report released today by the Global Language Monitor.

After two years in the top spot, the University now has the third best media image, according to the research firm’s rankings. Harvard trails the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, which took the top spot this year, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Global Language Monitor, which ranks the media coverage of 225 American colleges and universities, surveys the top 5,000 global media web sites—including online news sources, blogs, and social media—three times a year to determine how popular a school is within the public sphere.

“[The goal is to] see how representations of colleges or universities change over time,” said GLM president Paul J.J. Payack. “It’s a brand analysis, the same way you would do a brand analysis for Nike shoes or a Lexus car to see how many times your brand name is cited and in what area.”

The method used for the report is based on the same algorithm used to determine the top three words of 2009 to date: “Change,” “Bailout,” and “ObamaMania.”

Payack said that Harvard and other elite universities’ rankings may have dropped this year because of the country’s economic struggles. The University’s endowment dropped 27.3 percent during the last fiscal year.

“There’s a lot of movement to public universities,” Payack said. “‘Public Ivies’ are being seen in a new light because they seem to be a pretty good bargain. We saw, not just with Harvard, but among elite private universities, a cut in citations in general.”

Kevin Galvin, Harvard’s Director of News and Media Relations, said he does not see the drop in ranking as particularly significant to Harvard.

“I think it’s worth noting that, regardless of this tally of references in the news media, Harvard reported a record number of student applications this year, a record yield,” Galvin said. “We welcomed the most diverse freshman class in University history, and the teaching and groundbreaking research upon which its reputation rests continues to move forward.”

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