Gonzaga Law School Will Not Participate in U.S. News and World Report Rankings
A statement from Jacob H. Rooksby, the Smithmoore P. Myers dean of the Gonzaga University School of Law:
Gonzaga Law School will not be submitting data this year to U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) as part of its annual ranking of American law schools. The shortcomings of the USNWR rankings as currently constituted are many, as previously noted in the Chronicle of Higher Education and elsewhere, and as I addressed with colleagues in an op-ed published recently in the Seattle Times. As part of this process, I have taken the opportunity to meet with leading officials in charge of the USNWR for law schools to discuss these concerns, both individually and in small-group settings. The concerns over the ranking system are significant -- that they reward law schools for investments that have little to do with improving educational outcomes, value arbitrary measures of “quality,” utilize imprecise variables as markers for excellence and reinforce structural inequality in the legal profession.
We thus do far more than teach for proficiency and the minimal competency to practice law. We endeavor to provide ethical instruction that will mold students into moral leaders attuned to concerns for social justice, while also supporting our students’ growth inside and outside the classroom and the development of the whole person. Our faculty’s scholarship, extracurricular offerings, and academic program -- including our Center for Civil & Human Rights, Center for Law, Ethics & Commerce, and many clinical legal programs -- reflect these commitments, and yet the USNWR rankings fail to adequately assess or convey these features to their readership.
We know that our law school embodies many things in the lives of our students and alumni that the USNWR ranking system cannot capture. At the same time, we understand and appreciate the value of objective data in assisting students in determining which law school is right for them. That is why we look forward to continuing collaborative dialogue with USNWR officials and the ABA regarding how important information about our institution can be presented to consumers in a fashion that is meaningful, transparent and fair.
Gonzaga’s Law School is but one of many that have reached conclusions similar to ours. As fewer schools choose to participate in the USNWR competition, the utility of the ranking system, furthermore, is undermined, and the pressure increases for the system to change, as well it should. With today’s announcement, we join our fellow law schools in Washington state in declining to provide data to USNWR this year (see here and here). To what extent the USNWR methodology or emphases will change remains to be seen. Hopefully, these will evolve in a way consistent with Gonzaga’s commitment to academic excellence and the pursuit of our student-centered mission.