Let’s begin by granting the idea that magazine lists of America’s best universities aren’t a definitive reflection of what constitutes a “great” school, with that term defined as superior quality. Â But these lists do mean something when it comes to “great” in terms of grand reputation, a reputation that can assist and enhance the attractiveness of the city in which such a school is situated.
The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is the fourth-largest population center in the United States, and yet in the Top Colleges list released last week by Forbes, the highest ranked school from our region sits at only No. 105, SMU. The three metro areas larger than ours – New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago – all have entries in the top 20. Of the 10-largest metro areas (including also Houston, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, and Boston) Â the only one we’re outdoing by that measure is Miami, whose top-ranked school is only No. 132.
If you look at the latest U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges lists, Dallas-Fort Worth doesn’t do any better. That magazine splits its rankings among several categories. Â SMU is No. 62 among National Universities. Â Austin College (in Sherman) is No. 64 among National Liberal Arts Colleges. Â Among Regional Universities, the University of Dallas places No. 14. Â Even Miami beats us on these lists.
So how long will it be before Dallas-Fort Worth has a university reach a level of greatness consistent with the region’s size? And which school is it likely to be? Â SMU would seem to have the best chance, given that it’s the best positioned school that we’ve got on these lists.
In our February issue, we discussed how the University of North Texas is planning to “dominate Dallas.” But it’s got a long way to go to be considered one of the country’s greatest centers of higher education. UNT places No. 574 on the Forbes and goes unranked by U.S. News.
Who then? UT-Arlington, No. 560? UT-Dallas, No. 385? TCU, No. 214? Or University of Dallas, No. 120? Â We know that UTA, UTD, and UNT have all set their sights on transforming into tier-one research universities. Â Which will reach the top first?