October 3, 2015

Data for each university was taken from Wikipedia.  I checked information for each school relative to authenticity and found Wikipedia to be correct in every case.

USA Today recently published an article from the London-based “Times Higher Education World University Rankings”.  This organization was founded in 2004 for the sole purpose of evaluating universities across the world.  Evaluations are accomplished using the following areas of university life:

  • Teaching ability and qualification of individual teachers
  • International outlook
  • Reputation of university
  • Research initiatives
  • Student-staff ratios
  • Income from industries
  • Female-male ratios
  • Quality of student body
  • Citations

There were thirteen (13) performance criteria in the total evaluation.  The nine (9) above give an indication as to the depth of the investigation. Eight hundred (800) universities from seventy (70) countries were evaluated.  This year, there were only sixty-three (63) out of two hundred (200) schools that made the “best in the world” list. Let’s take a look at the top fifteen (15).  These are in order.

  1. California Institute of Technology–The California Institute of Technologyor Caltech is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States.   The school was founded as a preparatory and vocational institution by Amos G. Throop in 1891.  Even from the early years, the college attracted influential scientists such as George Ellery HaleArthur Amos Noyes, and Robert Andrews Millikan. The vocational and preparatory schools were disbanded and spun off in 1910, and the college assumed its present name in 1921. In 1934, Caltech was elected to the Association, and the antecedents of NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which Caltech continues to manage and operate, were established between 1936 and 1943 under Theodore von Kármán. The university is one among a small group of Institutes of Technology in the United States which tends to be primarily devoted to the instruction of technical arts and applied sciences.
  2. Oxford University–The University of Oxford(informally Oxford University or simply Oxford) is a collegiate research university located in Oxford, England. While having no known date of foundation, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second-oldest surviving university.  It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris.  After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled northeast to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two “ancient universities” are frequently jointly referred to as “Oxbridge“.
  3. Stanford University–Stanford University(officially Leland Stanford Junior University) is a private research university in StanfordCalifornia.  It is definitely one of the world’s most prestigious institutions, with the top position in numerous rankings and measures in the United States. Stanford was founded in 1885 by Leland Stanford, former Governor and S. Senator from California.  Mr. Stanford was a railroad tycoon.  He and his wife, Jane Lathrop Stanford, started the school in memory of their only child, Leland Stanford, Jr., who had died of typhoid fever at age 15 the previous year. Stanford was opened on October 1, 1891 as a coeducational and non-denominational institution. Tuition was free until 1920. The university struggled financially after Leland Stanford’s 1893 death and after much of the campus was damaged by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Following World War II, Provost Frederick Terman supported faculty and graduates’ entrepreneurialism to build self-sufficient local industry in what would later be known as Silicon Valley. By 1970, Stanford was home to a linear accelerator, and was one of the original four ARPANET nodes (precursor to the Internet).
  4. Cambridge University–The University of Cambridge (abbreviated as Cantabin post-nominal letters, sometimes referred to as Cambridge University) is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, England. Founded in 1209, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university.   It grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with townsfolk. The two ancient universities share many common features and are often jointly referred to as “Oxbridge“.
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology–The Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic  university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. Researchers worked on computersradar, and inertial guidance during World War II and the Cold War. Post-war defense research contributed to the rapid expansion of the faculty and campus.  The current 168-acre campus opened in 1916 and now covers over one (1) mile along the northern bank of the Charles River basin.
  6. Harvard University–Harvard Universityis a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was established in 1636. Its history, influence and wealth have made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Established originally by the Massachusetts legislature and soon thereafter named for John Harvard, its first benefactor.  Harvard is the  oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.  The Harvard Corporation (formally, the President and Fellows of Harvard College) is its first chartered corporation. Although never formally affiliated with any denomination, the early College primarily trained Congregation­alist and Unitarian Its curriculum and student body were gradually secularized during the 18th century, and by the 19th century Harvard had emerged as the central cultural establishment among Boston elites.  Following the American Civil War, President Charles W. Eliot‘s long tenure (1869–1909) transformed the college and affiliated professional schools into a modern research university; Harvard was a founding member of the Association of American Universities in 1900.   James Bryant Conant led the university through the Great Depression and World War II and began to reform the curriculum and liberalize admissions after the war. The undergraduate college became coeducational after its 1977 merger with Radcliffe College.
  7. Princeton University–Princeton Universityis a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey.  It was founded in 1746 as the College of New Jersey. Princeton was the fourth chartered institution of higher education in the Thirteen Colonies and thus one of the nine Colleges established before the American Revolution. The institution moved to Newark in 1747, then to the current site nine years later, where it was renamed Princeton University in 1896.
  8. Imperial College of London— Imperial College Londonis a public research university, located in London, United Kingdom. The Imperial College of Science and Technology was founded in 1907, as a constituent college of the federal University of London, by merging the City and Guilds College, the Royal School of Mines and the Royal College of Science. The college grew through mergers including with St Mary’s Hospital Medical SchoolCharing Cross and Westminster Medical School, the Royal Postgraduate Medical School and the National Heart and Lung Institute to be known as The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. The college established the Imperial College Business School in 2005, thus covering subjects in science, engineering, medicine and business. Imperial College London became an independent university in 2007 during its centennial celebration.
  9. ETH Zurich— ETH Zürich(Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, German:Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich) is an engineering, science, technology, mathematics and management university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Like its sister institution EPFL, it is an integral part of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain) that is directly subordinate to Switzerland’s Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research.
  10. University of Chicago— The University of Chicago(U of C, Chicago, or U Chicago) is a private research university in ChicagoIllinois. Established in 1890, the University of Chicago consists of The College, various graduate programs, interdisciplinary committees organized into four academic research divisions and seven professional schools. Beyond the arts and sciences, Chicago is also well known for its professional schools, which include the Pritzker  School of Medicine, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Law School, the School of Social Service Administration, the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies and the Divinity School. The university currently enrolls approximately 5,000 students in the College and around 15,000 students overall.
  11. Johns Hopkins— The Johns Hopkins University(commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins) is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1876, the university was named after its first benefactor, the American entrepreneur, abolitionist, and philanthropist Johns Hopkins.   His $7 million bequest—of which half financed the establishment of The Johns Hopkins Hospital—was the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the United States at the time.   Daniel Coit Gilman, who was inaugurated as the institution’s first president on February 22, 1876,led the university to revolutionize higher education in the U.S. by integrating teaching and research.
  12. Yale University Yale Universityis a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701 in Saybrook Colony as the Collegiate School, the University is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. In 1718, the school was renamed Yale College in recognition of a gift from Elihu Yale, a governor of the British East India Company and in 1731 received a further gift of land and slaves from Bishop Berkeley.   Established to train Congregationalist ministers in theology and sacred languages, by 1777 the school’s curriculum began to incorporate humanities and sciences and in the 19th century gradually incorporated graduate and professional instruction, awarding the first D. in the United States in 1861 and organizing as a university in 1887.
  13. University of California Berkeley— The University of California, Berkeley(also referred to as Berkeley, UC Berkeley, California or simply Cal) is a public research university located in BerkeleyCalifornia. It is the flagship campus of the University of California system, one of three parts in the state’s public higher education plan, which also includes the California State University system and the California Community Colleges System.
  14. University College of London— University College London(UCL) is a public research university in London, England and a constituent college of the federal University of London. Recognized as one of the leading multidisciplinary research universities in the world, UCL is the largest higher education institution in London and the largest postgraduate institution in the UK by enrollment.  Founded in 1826 as London University, UCL was the first university institution established in London and the earliest in England to be entirely secular, to admit students regardless of their religion and to admit women on equal terms with men. The philosopher Jeremy Bentham is commonly regarded as the spiritual father of UCL, as his radical ideas on education and society were the inspiration to its founders, although his direct involvement in its foundation was limited. UCL became one of the two founding colleges of the University of London in 1836. It has grown through mergers, including with the Institute of Neurology (in 1997), the Eastman Dental Institute (in 1999), the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (in 1999), the School of Pharmacy (in 2012) and the Institute of Education (in 2014).
  15. Columbia University— Columbia University(officially Columbia University in the City of New York) is a private Ivy League research university in Upper ManhattanNew York City. Originally established in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter of George II of Great Britain, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in New York State, as well as one of the country’s nine colonial colleges.   After the revolutionary war, King’s College briefly became a state entity, and was renamed Columbia College in 1784. A 1787 charter placed the institution under a private board of trustees before it was further renamed Columbia University in 1896 when the campus was moved from Madison Avenue to its current location in Morningside Heights occupying land of 32 acres (13 ha). Columbia is one of the fourteen founding members of the Association of American Universities, and was the first school in the United States to grant the D. degree.


As you can see, individuals in leadership positions across the world consider formal education as being one the great assets to an individual, a country and our species in general.  Higher education can, but not always, drives us to discover, invent, and commercialize technology that advances our way of life and promotes health.  The entire university experience is remarkably beneficial to an individual’s understanding of the world and world events.

It is very safe to assume the faculty of each school is top-notch and attending students are serious over-achievers. (Then again, maybe not.)  I would invite your attention to the web site listing the two hundred schools considered—the top two hundred.  Maybe your school is on the list.  As always, I invite your comments.


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