The news cycle brings many odd coincidences, as we were reminded recently when LSU gained attention on the same day for two seemingly unrelated distinctions.
Southern Living magazine named LSU among the top 20 schools with the best tailgating celebrations, and U.S. News & World Report recognized LSU as one of the best schools in the country.
Southern Living’s shout-out won’t surprise local football fans a bit. The magazine recognized LSU’s fan base for the way it “enlists RVs and crawfish boils to cook up a massive tailgate.” Southern Living also placed Louisiana’s Grambling University among the region’s top 20 tailgating schools for the way the university “turns its rival matchup into a weeklong extravaganza.”
Southern Living’s Top 20 tailgating schools will vie for top honors as “The South’s Best Tailgate” through an online contest to determine which school can garner the most votes.
Readers and fans can vote daily. For information about casting a vote, visit http://www.southernliving.com.
Perhaps of greater consequence to LSU is its recognition by U.S. News & World Report for the fifth straight year for the quality of its academic programs. The magazine’s 2013 Best Colleges edition ranks LSU 67th among public universities and 134th overall.
In the overall rankings, LSU is tied at 134th with four other schools, two public — Colorado State University and the University of Arkansas — and two private — DePaul University and Hofstra University.
The magazine’s criteria for ranking schools include undergraduate academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.
LSU’s presence in the ranking underscores the wisdom of tighter admission standards for the university in recent years. Those standards have helped attract quality students to campus and enhanced the school’s academic performance.
But LSU’s standing in the rankings comes as the university continues to deal with cuts in state funding. LSU fell six places in this year’s rankings, the second year in a row that the university lost ground. “Despite the tough budget climate, LSU continues to be nationally competitive,” interim LSU System President and LSU Chancellor William Jenkins said of the new U.S. News & World Report roster.
Despite its presence in the magazine’s “Best Colleges” edition, LSU has much work to do in competing with its peer institutions in neighboring states. Those challenges underscore the need for adequate funding for the state’s flagship university.