"Excellence" serves as the unit of currency within a closed field. It allows the a priori exclusion of any question about what exellence in the University might be, what the term might mean. . . . Henceforth, the question of the University is only the question of relative value-for-money, the question posed to a student who is situated entirely as a consumer, rather than as someone who wants to think.

Bill Reading, The University in Ruins (Harvard University Press, 1996), p. 27

5 Ways to Tell if You Go to a Third-Rate University

1) The words "excellence" or "excellent" are used in materials describing your university in printed material or on the Web.

2) The president of your university, or its other administrators, frequently use the words "excellence" or "excellent" in speeches or memoranda.

3) Your university (a) has one or more clubs or organizations for athletics boosters, and (b) these clubs release public statements about "excellence in athletics and academics."

4) Fundraisers for your university explain that their purpose is to promote "excellence," or to develop "excellent" resources with money raised for the university.

5) Your campus bookstore (a) contains almost no books, (b) contains a huge variety of merchandise -- clothing, pillows, mugs, toys, alarm clocks, fanny pillows, hair-removal systems, candy bars -- featuring the university's name or logo, and (c) one or more of these items displays mottos containing the words "excellence" or "excellent" -- e.g., "Sargasso State University: a tradition of excellence."

Statistical evaluation: count the number of times "excellence" or "excellent" is used in your university's Web pages. This is your base score. Add one point for every occurrence of the two terms you can then find in printed materials released by the university, plus all those you are able to identify in categories 2-5. Divide by two. Scale:

1-2: you attend a second-rate university

3-4: you attend a third-rate university

5 or more: burn your student card and arrange to have all mentions of the university erased from your personal records. Disenroll and ask your friends and family never to mention that you set foot on the campus.


Barchi, an effective fundraiser, will assist the university's fundraising campaign, Our Rutgers, Our Future: A Campaign for Excellence.

--RU Alumni Magazine, Fall 2012