Reflections on Rankings

By Carolyn Y. Woo | Summer 2010

In the early evening of March 4, 2010, I was at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus. The annual undergraduate BusinessWeek (now Bloomberg Businessweek) rankings were being released on the Internet, with a countdown beginning at number 50. Mendoza colleagues would surely be clustered around a computer holding their breath, awaiting the results. I have long made a habit to stay away from this scene, to retreat to a place where I can hold onto the notion that our collective work in education cannot be reduced to a ranking, whatever it is.

Fr. Paul Doyle, C.S.C., chaplain of the Mendoza College, happened to be the celebrant of the evening Mass.

In the sacristy after Mass, I pulled out my iPhone and without my reading glasses, squinted to find a short little subject line in light gray that read, “It’s time to party, we are Number 1.”

Only Fr. Paul would know what I said after that. I returned to the Basilica to give thanks and then visited the Grotto.

Our ranking came about from the hearts, talents and efforts of so many. Let’s start with the Mendoza faculty and staff who put our students’ success above all else. Collectively, they carry a huge enrollment so that all students who choose business as a major can avail themselves of the opportunities provided by the College. I appreciate the inimitable Career Services team who leave no stone unturned to find opportunities for our students. I also remember Notre Dame colleagues who provide business students with a peerless education and formation in the humanities and sciences, and in the residence halls, chapels, urban trenches and international locations. These experiences have changed the way our students look at themselves, the world around them, and their place in it.

None of this would happen without the support from the central administration and the incredible generosity of alumni, benefactors and Business Advisory Council members whose mentoring, inspiring examples and resources have rendered every aspiration within reach.

However rewarding this recognition has been for us, it is important to note that our success does not derive from a number 1 ranking. It ultimately rests on the students we send into the world.

Do they succeed in the right way? Do they care about others whose lives they touch? Do they recognize the power of business to do good or harm, and develop the character to bring about the first and fight the second? Do they go on the journey with hope? Do they recognize the Spirit who walks with them?

Thirteen years ago, I joined the University because I believed in the Notre Dame message of faith guiding work. But I felt like that message required the credibility earned through academic excellence. Today, we have achieved another milestone, and we must look upon it as a responsibility and a means to a larger purpose. That purpose, as Pope Benedict XVI reminds us in Caritas in Veritate, is that, “the economy needs ethics in order to function correctly—not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centered.”