VCU: Expanding Upon Incompetence

The other day, Jim Bacon published a piece on the Brookings study, Beyond College Rankings: A Value-Added Approach to Assessing Two- and Four-Year Schools.

Brookings looked at “economic value added.”  In essence, they measured “the difference between actual alumni outcomes (like salaries) and predicted outcomes for institutions with similar characteristics and students.”

The Brookings data have something to tell us about the jobs our colleges and universities are doing.

Here, for a start, are the Brookings data for Virginia institutions.

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If we graph those data, we see a clear trend.  Indeed, it makes sense that mid-career salary would correlate with occupational earnings.

There are two clearly anomalous data points: the University of Richmond (the yellow square) and Mary Washington (the pink circle) are well removed from the trend.

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Richmond is the only “Baccalaureate College[]” in the list, albeit it offers advanced degrees in law, education, and other subjects.  Presumably Brookings looked only at the undergraduate program.  As to why Richmond graduates would have relatively high mid-career salaries but low earnings, go figure.

If we just look at the research universities, we see a clearer picture: Outstanding performance, except from VCU, and a clear trend.

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Unfortunately, VCU seems devoted to its mediocre performance.  They are spending $90,000 per year of your and my tax money to hire Richmond’s failed Superintendent as as an Associate Professor in “Educational Leadership.”  If that kind of “leadership” is characteristic of VCU, it’s a miracle that their graduates’ earnings are not still lower.

Turning to the schools with masters programs:

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Here we see another fairly clear trend, with Mary Washington and Hampton showing anomalous mid-career salary outcomes.

My takeaway: Enjoy VCU basketball and send your kids to another university.

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Note added Wednesday afternoon: The inimitable Carol Wolf pointed out that VUU VSU [Oops!] beat VCU as to both earnings and mid-career salary.

Indeed.  VUU VSU in green, VCU in red:

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In fact, it’s more dramatic than that.  VCU is a research university, while VUU VSU is in the lower-scoring cohort of “Master’s Colleges and Universities.”  It would have been entirely unremarkable if VCU had significantly outscored VUU VSU.  It is entirely remarkable that VUU VSU whipped VCU in both rankings.