have been following the discussion ("Letters," December/01
and February/02) about the importance of rankings of universities.
I have no solution except to remark that if rankings lead to snobbery
they are bad, while if they lead people to choose the right university
they are good.
of where Chicago is ranked, it is a fine institution, but that
does not mean it is appropriate for every serious student. Second,
one may be influenced by Chicago, whether or not he is a student
there. At the University of Missouri, where I was an undergraduate,
I greatly revered Prof. Newell S. Gingrich, PhD'30 (physics),
who had been a student of Prof. A. H. Compton. Professor Gingrich
motivated me to go to Chicago for graduate work. By the second
year, I realized I did not belong and I applied to the University
of Kansas, near my home. Prof. J. D. Stranathan, PhD'28, the head
of the physics department at Kansas, offered an assistantship.
While I was completing my Ph.D., my advisor was not often available-however,
Robert J. Friauf, SM'51, PhD'53, was also on my committee, and
he helped advise me so that I completed the degree. Later, as
a professor, I found myself at the Florida Institute of Technology
where Jay Burns III, SM'51, PhD'60, was head. He was extremely
helpful as my supervisor and also later during the 12 years that
I headed the department. I left Chicago, but to my surprise, its
influence never left me.
D. Patterson, SM'57
Rapid City, South Dakota