The other two elite colleges

January 13, 2010
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Spend any length of time around the business community in the Indianapolis area, and you’re bound to bump into high-profile graduates of DePauw University and Wabash College, two of the state’s four premier liberal arts institutions.

DePauw boasts of Cummins chief Tim Solso, Indiana Economic Development Corp. CEO Mitch Roob and entrepreneur David Becker. Wabash points to Lilly Endowment President Clay Robbins, City-County Council President Ryan Vaughn and Dr. Don Shelbourne, a leading knee replacement specialist.

But what about two other colleges arguably as good—Earlham College and Taylor University? Academically, Earlham, DePauw, Taylor and Wabash stand in a league of their own in this state.

However, can you name a well-known Earlham or Taylor graduate here? If not, don’t feel bad. The schools struggle, too.

An Earlham spokesman fingered one—State Rep. Greg Porter. A Taylor spokesman mentioned Beulah Coughenour, the longtime City-County Council member who watched over public works until retiring in 2004.

How do you interpret this? Are Earlham and Taylor grads overlooked for top jobs? Are their students more likely to go to graduate schools elsewhere or otherwise leave the state? Something else?

Which of the four is the best school?

  • Hinkle Wooden and Dillinger
    To ask the question which is the best school misses the point. To use how well known the schools graduates are as the determinant factor in answering the question misses the mark even further.

    The question should rightly be, which is the best school for a particular student given that students needs, wants, personality and financial circumstances.

    As for using how well known a schools graduates are as a way to determine which is the best school think about using well known as an indicator of quality this way, John Dillinger was the best known Hoosier of his day, and one of the better known Hoosiers of today, Dillinger dropped out of school in the 7th grade. In a more positive light, the best known and the most successful basketball coach ever, John Wooden, when ask by the New York Times, â??How does it feel to be the best basketball coach to ever coach the game,â?? responded â??I donâ??t know, Toney Hinkle is the best coach to ever coach the game.â?? Wooden is much better known than Hinkle, however both men are to be admired and respected for their contributions.

    Each of these four schools should be admired and respected for their contributions.
  • whole story misses mark
    Your basic premise apparently is that the "goodness" of a school is judged by the non-academic accomplishments of the graduates. That is a bad premise.

    Anyone with a whit of history knows that DePauw is the Alma Mater of a former Vice President of the United States. They might also remember that the august Faculty of that institution first denied an honorary doctorate to that individiual when he was coming to deliver the commencement address. I asked a faculty member how they could deny an HONORARY to that fella. The response? I remember him. To paraphrase someone who had it correct, judge a man by the content of his character.
  • Hanoversight???
    I'm a proud alumnus of Depauw, whose national reputation was built partly on the accomplishments of Hoosier business leaders like Bud and Fred Tucker, Andy Paine, Jim Baker, Ian Rolland, Dick Doermer and many others.
    But to say that Indiana has only four "premier liberal arts institutions" without Hanover College being among them is surely an oversight.
  • Other Two?
    I agree with the prior posts that how "good" a school is a highly subjective issue, and that who your alumni are is not indicative of the quality of a school. But I can't help but ask, based on what possible criteria did you decide that there are only our "premier" liberal arts schools in Indiana?

    According to the US News & World report I just looked up, Notre Dame, Valparaiso, and Saint Mary's were all higher rated Indiana liberal arts universities than at least one of the four schools you mention. What makes only these four central Indiana universities eligible to be in your self anointed "league of their own"? Was it your intention to insult every other Indiana liberal arts university by calling them second rate, or could you just not remember the names of any other colleges in Indiana that are more than 75 miles from Indianapolis?
  • Not right
    Leaving Butler out of this article had to have been an oversight as well. I'm sorry -- I don't know anything about Earlham grads. I agree that DePauw and Wabash have good grads, but Butler has to be noted for its business alums as well. You cannot say that Earlham, Taylor, DePauw, and Wabash are the top four liberal arts schools in the state. Completely erroneous.
  • Top 4 Schools
    What, Earlham over Hanover??? and Butler??? or anywhere for that matter.. Earlham, the liberal bastion of whacky education in Indiana. I think not.

    • Earlham Engages the World, Not Just Indianapolis
      Like many of the previous posters, I am also a bit perplexed at the thesis of your original post. Surely the perceived lack of graduates from a given school who are in positions of perceived power and influence in your city is not the indicator of educational excellence that you are looking for.

      A cursory look at our database shows nearly 300 Earlham College alums who self-report living and working in the Indianapolis area. A determination of â??prominenceâ?? is a very subjective thing. Earlham graduates are on the payroll at Family Services of Central Indiana, Indianapolis Museum of Art, WISH-TV and WTHR-TV, Marion County Public Defenderâ??s Office, Methodist Hospital and Wishard Health Services, the Childrenâ??s Museum, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, City National Bank, Indiana Tax Court, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and Eli Lilly, just to name a few organizations in your area.

      Earlham graduates are doctors, lawyers, teachers, scientists, labor leaders, social workers, bankers, judges, nurses, mothers, fathers, librarians, historians, journalistsâ?¦. Iâ??m not sure how one can rank that list. They are all contributing to our world. And they are contributing all over the world.

      For the record, Earlham students arrive in Richmond from around the globe. Our current student body is made up of nearly 1,200 students from 46 states and more than 70 foreign countries. While we are proud of the 20% of our student body that comes from Indiana, the assumption that a significant numbers of those students will stay in the state after graduation â?? let alone migrate to Indy â?? seems, at best, unrealistic.

      Earlham strives to live up to its mission of providing the highest quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts, including the sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) as it has since 1847. We are proud to be one of the 31 schools that make up the Independent Colleges of Indiana and one of 40 American Colleges That Change Lives.

      Gail Clark
      Senior Director of Alumni Relations
      Earlham College
    • Spellcheck, please
      For the record, BerwickGuy, it's WACKY, not WHACKY. Your ridiculous post does nothing to further the debate.

      Go Quakers!
    • childish and immature
      "Earlham, the liberal bastion of whacky education in Indiana."

      One in ten Earlham grads go on to get a PhD. Not an inconsequential number and much higher than the other schools mentioned. Earlham is a very good school and one we as Hoosiers can and should be proud of.
      Calling the school whacky because you disagree with the perceived political climate of intuition is childish and immature. Earlhamâ??s success in producing well educated students who go on to archive success in graduate school is proof of its educational worth.
      As I said above the best school is the school that best meets the needs of the individual student.
    • Earlham
      Gee, sounds like I struck a nerve. And by the way, JACK, that word can be spelled either way.

      Earlham, like their Quaker benefactors, have forgotten the difference between right and wrong. Anything is ok as long as you give peace a chance. And don't tell me otherwise, I used to be a Quaker. Until Christ led me to the truth.

    • Bad Article
      I agree with several others that the whole method the writer uses to judge the quality of each school is poor. I'm not sure when being a business leader in Indianapolis became the ulimate goal for every college graduate? Actually, many of your best college students in Indiana that have the potential and resume to do anything would look at staying in Indy as failure. Don't get me wrong, I like it here but if I was a 22 year old graduate that had my pick of jobs why would I want to try to become a business leader in a town with so few large corporations headquartered there? It would seem more sensible to aim a little higher than Indy's tiny opportunities for top level corporate jobs.

      Ultimately, the writer seems to bring his own bias into this article in a strong way that doesn't lead to much objectivity. While there may not be a way to truly say which school is "best" something like the US News rankings, etc. would be a much more objective way of doing it.
    • Graduates don't stay in Indiana
      The reason you don't see a lot of Earlham graduates in jobs in Indiana is that most of their students are NOT FROM INDIANA. They are from the coasts. They don't want to stay in Indiana after graduation.

      Don't know for sure about Taylor....
    • BerwickGuy sophistry
      â??Gee, sounds like I struck a nerve.â??

      You flatter yourself while failing to address the issue at hand. Your sophistry would not be acceptable in a first year seminar at any of the four colleges under discussion.
    • Earlham
      Nice beat down, Tom. There was no attempt at flattery. On the contrary, ultra liberal education has played a significant role in the destruction of values for our once great USA. Take the "No Child Left Behind" Act. Did you know that in 2014, all schools are expected to have a graduation rate of 100% with no exception? And I'm certain that the same seminar at Earlham would struggle with that one even after an overwhelming endorsement of the Kennedy/Bush effort to improve America's crumbling public education system.

    • Stay on subject

      You are still not discussing the quality of the four schools, which is the issue the article raised.

      All four of these schools are private intuitions of higher education, if you want to complain about President Bush the Younger and the public education system, you should do so at an appropriate web site and not this one.

      You are off subject.

      The ability to keep oneself, and the others involved in the discussion on subject, is one of the most important skills a student develops in a seminar based education system. It is this seminar based education, as opposed to the large lecture hall system derived from the 18th & 19th century German model, which is the hallmark and strength of the small liberal arts college education.

      Stay on subject.
    • Taylor Grads
      As a church-going fella, I know several Taylor grads doing very well in the workforce. Taylor, as a Christian school, does not seek the accolades or academic spotlight like other schools. They have no need to justify themselves with self-promotion. Taylor has high respect among many in ministry and those who want a Christian education. They don't need validity from the "world."
    • Earlham
      Ok, little tom, I'm not off subject. The writer asked about the opinions of readers regarding what schools in Indiana are considered elite. I'm simply pointing out reasons why Earlham should not be considered in the "elite" class. Additionally, that point about public education was mentioned to point out how it would be clearly understood within the liberal thinking fostered at Earlham, another reason to forget about being elite.

      Get it?
      • Previous Post
        Pardon my mistake - "Additionally, that point about public education was mentioned to illustrate how it would be clearly MISunderstood withink the liberal thinking fostered at Earlham, another reason to gorget about being elite."
      • Not a good deal
        None of the above mentioned private liberal arts schools provides a reasonably cost efficient education. One should look to the state's quality public institutions. IUPUI comes to mind as a very good opportunity for a very good education, remarkable academic opportunites such as service learning and study abroad, and all at a reasonable price.
      • foolish of me
        Setting aside the childishness of referring to me as â??little Tomâ?? and the arrogance and audacious of bestowing upon yourself the mantel of wisdom because you claim to speak to and for Jesus. I am sure your divinely inspired missive that an educational institution with a perceived liberal predisposition cannot be an â??eliteâ?? educational institution will come as somewhat of a surprise to Swarthmore, Harvard, Yale, and a whole host of other quality colleges and universities.
        Now I am off subject, so Iâ??ll stop my participation in this discussion. I am ending my participation because it is clearly foolish of me to try to carry on a discussion with a fool.
      • Earlham et al
        Interesting how liberals always revert to elitist put downs and name calling. That's the progressive way, especially when it deals with attacking those that disagree with their viewpoints.

        Truly sad........
      • RE: BerwickGuy
        Your ignorance is astounding. Where do you even get your information? At this point, I can't tell if your No Child Left Behind post is serious or if you are being sarcastic. I really hope it was the latter.
      • House of Representatives
        After the fall 2012 elections, two of Indiana's Congressional delegation will be Wabash grads.

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