Is There a Jesuit Business School Conspiracy?


Fox agrees that a ranking based on a single opinion survey can be problematic. “There’s so much room for squishiness,” Fox says. “Self-serving voting is another possibility. It would be possible for someone to say, ‘Okay, where are we ranked and who’s ranked right around us?’ and next year we decide not to rank them or rank them lower than we might otherwise think, in an effort to game people around us and maybe increase our position. I don’t know of anyone who’s ever done that (but) I talk to my colleagues around the country who talk about that as a real possibility, and even an invitation: ‘Well, here it is, let’s game it.’ “My biggest concern is people who put serious weight into these rankings, make decisions about where to choose to apply, where to go to school, what tuition to pay when there’s so little tangible, evidence-based information that lies below that ranking. There are probably better ways to narrow your search . . . even though they might be a little more time consuming to research.”

The dubious validity of U.S. News’ specialty rankings doesn’t stop the Jesuit schools from leveraging them for marketing. Like anyone else in life, when life gives the Jesuit schools lemons, they make lemonade. “This is a continuing affirmation of the quality of our master’s programs at the Cook School,” then-dean Ellen Harshman crows in a 2013 Cook website missive highlighting the school’s top 20 placement in three categories of the specialty rankings. Haub’s dean Joseph DiAngelo in his online welcome statement calls attention to Haub’s performance in the specialty rankings, too. “The Haub School . . . is in an elite category of the best business schools throughout the world,” DiAngelo asserts.

At Harvard Business School, which falls two spots behind Cook in the U.S. News’ logistics specialty ranking, spokesperson Jim Aisner was not familiar with Cook, and would not comment on its placement. “Rankings are one source of information,” Aisner says. “They should be taken as one source of information. The most important thing, we feel, is the match, the appropriate school for you.” U.S. News chief data strategist Robert Morse says he has seen no evidence of a Jesuit conspiracy in voting for the specialty rankings, but U.S. News hasn’t probed the relatively high rankings of Jesuit schools in those rankings.


“Whether or not it’s collusion voting by the Jesuits that has resulted in this, we have not examined this, which means that I don’t know if it exists or doesn’t exist,” Morse says. “We haven’t seen any evidence of collusion but we haven’t tried to analyze the data at the level it would take to actually prove collusion which would involve people having to answer questions about why they voted in a certain way, which I’m not sure how successful that would be. Someone would have to admit that they colluded.” Morse acknowledges that at the bottom end of the specialty rankings, the basis of placements could be thin, based on the minimum seven nominations. “It isn’t a very sophisticated ranking,” Morse says. “I think for how they’re done, they provide useful information for students that these are some of the top programs. It’s serving its purpose.”

St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit sect, reportedly described himself as suffering from “a vainglorious desire for fame.” While his spiritual heirs in American academia, some 500 years later, may find the glory of a top spot in the U.S. News overall MBA rankings eluding them, they obtain, within the specialty lists at least, a little bit of fame.

How Jesuit Business Schools Rank In U.S. News


School Specialty Rank U.S. News Overall
Boston College Accounting 21 45
Boston College Finance 15 45
Creighton University Finance 22 N/A
Fairfield University Finance 25 N/A
Fairfield University Marketing 20 N/A
Fordham University Finance 22 92
Fordham University Marketing 20 92
Georgetown University International 12 23
Gonzaga University Accounting 25 N/A
Loyola Marymount University Accounting 19 N/A
Loyola Marymount University Entrepreneurship 14 N/A
Loyola Marymount University Marketing 19 N/A
Loyola University Chicago Accounting 21 N/A
Loyola University Chicago International 21 N/A
Loyola University Chicago Supply Chain/Logistics 15 N/A
Loyola University Maryland Accounting 20 N/A
Loyola University Maryland Finance 15 N/A
Marquette University Accounting 25 N/A
Rockhurst University Management 20 N/A
Saint Joseph’s University Executive MBA 15 N/A
Saint Joseph’s University Finance 18 N/A
Saint Joseph’s University Marketing 16 N/A
Saint Louis University Entrepreneurship 14 N/A
Saint Louis University International 16 N/A
Saint Louis University Supply Chain/Logistics 13 N/A
Santa Clara University Entrepreneurship 22 N/A
Santa Clara University Executive MBA 18 N/A
Seattle University Accounting 14 N/A
Xavier University Entrepreneurship 19 N/A

Source: U.S. News & World Report 2015 specialty rankings


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