Uh oh—I feel another Hobo Day Riot coming on....
For those of you who believe everything you read on the Internet, Noodle.com says the most influential college in South Dakota is... Augustana College.
In other states, Noodle picks the predictable public behemoths as the most influential: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; University of Texas, Austin. But in South Dakota, two state campuses each posting headcounts over 10,000 and together cranking out over 4,200 degrees a year evidently exert less influence than one private campus fielding 1,800 students and graduating fewer than 400 a year.
Do these ratings stand up as well as a wet version of that website?
Noodle.com says it calculates influence based on these four factors:
- Search engine popularity
- Twitter authority
- Number of affiliated Nobel Prize winners
- US News rank
That's all we get, so we can't replicate Noodle.com's data noodling perfectly. It's mostly Google-happy proxy talk, with the exception of Nobel Prize winners. On that front, if we're talking South Dakota natives, Ernest Lawrence, the inventor of the cyclotron, got his undergraduate degree from the University of South Dakota. Economist Theodore Schultz graduated from SDSU.
If we are talking about determining the influence of colleges within their own states, we perhaps do better to work from our own knowledge of where our leaders come from. USD provides a lion's share of our political leaders; Augustana College has yet to produce a U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, or Governor for South Dakota (although Susan Wismer is trying to change that).
If we're talking about industry, SDSU's agriculture and engineering grads surely give USD business grads and School of Mines engineers runs for their money in every local Chamber of Commerce.
Of course, if we're talking economic development, Northern State University, as the employer of Joop Bollen, gets all of the credit for bringing $600 million and over 5,000 jobs to South Dakota through EB-5 investment. Go Wolves!
If we're talking about future leaders, consider that SDSU produced the most teacher education graduates this year, 145. Black Hills State produced 143 teachers; USD, 104. The College Board tells me 11% of Augie's grads come out with teaching degrees, suggesting about 40 new teachers a year.
But how does one really measure the influence of any given institution? Readers, alumni, professors and campus partisans, I open the question for your evening noodling: which campuses wield the most influence in South Dakota?