Jonathan Henry, a vice president at the University of Maine at Augusta, is hoping that an email will arrive this month. He is also sort of dreading it.
The message, if it comes, will tell him that U.S. News & World Report has again ranked his university’s online programs among the nation’s best. History suggests the email will also prod the university toward paying U.S. News, through a licensing agent, thousands of dollars for the right to advertise its rankings.
For more than a year, U.S. News has been embroiled in another caustic dispute about the worthiness of college rankings — this time with dozens of law and medical schools vowing not to supply data to the publisher, saying that rankings sometimes unduly influence the priorities of universities.
But school records and interviews show that colleges nevertheless feed the rankings industry, collectively pouring millions of dollars into it.
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