Former Medical Educator Criticizes Harvard’s Withdrawal From College Ranking System

Former Medical Educator Criticizes Harvard’s Withdrawal From College Ranking System
Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, board chair of Do No Harm. (Courtesy of Do No Harm)
Matt McGregor

A former medical educator has criticized Harvard Medical School’s withdrawal from the U.S. News and World Report’s school ranking system, stating that the college is sacrificing merit for diversity.

“The U.S. News and World Report’s magazine ranking system for medical schools has long presented a problem for prestigious institutions like Harvard and Penn, where I used to teach,” Dr. Stanley Goldfarb told The Epoch Times.

Goldfarb is a former associate dean for curriculum at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s now chairman of the medical watchdog group Do No Harm and is the author of the April 2022 book, “Take Two Aspirin and Call Me by My Pronouns: Why Turning Doctors Into Social Justice Warriors Is Destroying American Medicine,” which follows how medical schools hurried to adopt diversity, equity, and inclusion requirements in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in 2020.

“These medical schools desperately want to admit more students based on race, which they’ve done by lowering standards and admitting some students who didn’t take the MCAT,” Goldfarb said. “They want to admit more, but the U.S. News Rankings won’t let them without rightly penalizing their ranking. Now Harvard Medical School can admit whoever it wants, on whatever standards it wants, and it can still claim to be number one.”

By not participating, Harvard canceled the rating system, Goldfarb said.

According to a Jan. 17 press release from Harvard Medical School, educational leaders have criticized U.S. News and World Report’s methodology used in ranking.

“My concerns and the perspectives I have heard from others are more philosophical than methodological, and rest on the principled belief that rankings cannot meaningfully reflect the high aspirations for educational excellence, graduate preparedness, and compassionate and equitable patient care that we strive to foster in our medical education programs,” said Harvard’s Dean of the Faculty of Medicine George Daley in the press release. “As unintended consequences, rankings create perverse incentives for institutions to report misleading or inaccurate data, set policies to boost rankings rather than nobler objectives, or divert financial aid from students with financial need to high-scoring students with means in order to maximize ranking criteria.”

Ultimately, Daley said, the ranking system is too rigid to address the “complex, nuanced, and individualized” circumstances surrounding a medical school’s suitability for “any given student.”

Supreme Court Considers Race-Based Admission

Harvard’s decision is addressing a dilemma many colleges and universities have faced in choosing to cater to “woke” ideologies instead of rewarding academic achievement, Goldfarb said.
In October 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, which addresses race-based admission policies at both Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The lawsuit seeks to overturn a 2003 ruling that permits universities to consider race in the admission process for the purpose of boosting diversity. The lawsuit contends this is a discriminatory policy that unfairly disadvantages white and Asian American students.

The court has not yet issued an opinion in the case.

“There’s a great fear among these schools that they’re going to have to take in the most qualified individuals as opposed to using race-based admissions,” Goldfarb said. “How do you tell who’s the most qualified? You tell by their grades and their achievement tests.”

By eliminating its participation in rankings, Harvard can now admit students with low test scores and not be subject to a lower rating by the U.S. News and World Report, Goldfarb said.

“We should see this move for what it is: the denial of merit in the name of diversity,” Goldfarb said. “There was a time when admission to Harvard Medical School meant you had superior academic achievement. That is no longer true, and Harvard should be ashamed for emphasizing skin color over academic and medical excellence.”

Response From the Parties

In response to The Epoch Times’ request for comment, Harvard Medical School linked to its Jan. 17 press release.

U.S. News and World Report responded to The Epoch Times’ request for comment with a link to its Jan. 18 statement on the issue.

“Our mission is to help prospective students make the best decisions for their educational future. Where students attend school and how they use their education are among the most critical decisions of their life, and with admissions more competitive and less transparent, and tuition increasingly expensive, we believe students deserve access to all the data and information necessary to make the right decision,” U.S. News and World Report stated.

“We know that comparing diverse academic institutions across a common data set is challenging, and that is why we have consistently stated that the rankings should be one component in a prospective student’s decision-making process. The fact is, millions of prospective students annually visit U.S. News medical school rankings because we provide students with valuable data and solutions to help with that process.”

Michael Washburn contributed to this report.