« Revisionist History

Project Dillard

2021-07-08

A historically Black university in New Orleans is beloved by everyone – except the US News best colleges rankings. We hack our way back into the algorithm and show how Dillard University can rise to the top. Part two of a two-part series.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Pushed out we're twenty three November twenty eight Hamilton returns to Philadelphia tickets or on sale. Now for the Tony Alleviate Grammy, an Pulitzer Prize winning musical coming to the Kimmel Cultural Campus, this fall. It's the story of America, then told by American now featuring a score that blends hip, hop, jazz, r and D and Broadway Hamilton has created a revolutionary moment in theatre performances, begin October, twentieth for six weeks only get tickets now a camel cultural campus dot org. No, is reading your mind but hp, instant ink. When you're printers running low incense, new cartridges before you run out, so you never have to think about ink for details visit P com, instant ink conditions apply. In New Orleans, a few miles from the french quarter
there is a small liberal arts College called Dillard University. The campus is an elegant cluster of one hundred year old white buildings bordering alarm, long long, rows of live oaks run down either side of the green. It looks like a postcard from the nineteen thirties. And because this is New Orleans, the school choirs amazing The president of Dillard is Walter. Kimbro tall, mid fifties, close crop tar, pencil, thin, mustache bachelors. In the University of Georgia Master's degree from Miami University Phd from Georgia State, Your father is a very well known, Pastern Atlanta yeah, that's right, he's he's Walter Senior, you, Walter Junior, where we have different
So how are wall to lean on while Denmark he equal? I want to leave the country they give it s yeah. That's my dad I would encourage you should you, Ruby in New Orleans to pay a visit to Dillard here the choir perform. If you can and walk around the campus, as I did with what a camera We're in this area of New Orleans is Gentiles potentilly. The area is very real. So it was middle class. After the marriage, community. So a lot of things to sort of walk this way make a loop. Then? When you finish your stroller on campus, look up Dillard on U S news and world report best colleges, rankings website thereof,
the Liberal arts College list, which usually has some combination of Williams, Amherst and Swarthmore at the top, but keep going down the long winding road of elite, private american education, gilded with IV granite and Tweed Pomona Wellesley Bowden keep going, and after you get to the fancy schools and the tier below the fancy schools and the cheer below that tear, there was a bottomless pit into which, U Dot S news dumps all the colleges that they consider to mediocre. Proper assessment. Dillard is in the bottomless pit. My question was: why that's the mist that led me all the way down to New Orleans to see Walter Kimbro. What does America's premier ranking system have against Hillard University, my name. Is Malcolm global. You listening revisions. History like podcast about things looked misunderstood this episode
the continuation of my investigation of the strange annual american rich? well known as the? U S news best colleges rankings I decided. I pick a school in order to To understand how the rankings work make it a Khaistan analyze is performed, on the bewildering set of metrics used by serious US news algorithm. Let's that's called, Investigation Project Dillard about three quarters of the student body. Dillard are PAL grand eligible meaning they qualify for real assistance. The average family income of the students is just over thirty thousand dollars a year. A third of them are the first in their families to go to college. Virtually all a black deal is a part of that. A group of eight misuse, eight, they called the black eyes
so more House Filman Howard, Hampton Diller, was in that group too, and so some people no buying a dandelion, take pride in it and when there are broke, you won't need know that this is a student that comes from a family, they're really sort of struggling, because they together and they are able to carry themselves like they ve been so middle class out their life and they haven't us news- tells us that schools ranked higher on their list are better than schools ranked lower on their list, and I want to figure out what? U S. News means by that word better. Why is it that the black Ivy League is not treated with the same reverence as the White Ivy League. I started this story on a little bit of Allah lark because I thought all be funded. Make fun of? U S: news but the more I did it the angrier, I got a very sophisticated group group of people in D Dc came up with a standard by we measure higher education in his country and that
standard- is massively biased. Against people who want to serve underserved populations, and they have made the lives of people like you, hundred students more difficult as a result. It that's what it is exactly this ammunition That is what it is all in all the EU s NEWS rankings, the perpetuation of privilege, desperate I've, always colonies, that's all it is a perpetuation of privilege. In last week's episode, I consulted with a group of statisticians at Reed College who had had their way into the secret. U S news algorithm! I decided to call on the services again this time to help me with the puzzle of Dillard, universities rank My name is Lauren rain. I am environmental studies, economics major at Re College and I'm a senior
we, how how did Kelly recruit you for this project, Kelly Kelly, Mcconville, a professor red who enjoys cajoling her students into various acts of statistical mischief, Kelly just one day and was like hey. I have a project that might be fun for you. We just get to play with data and make some models and try to predict some things and hold on hold on Your first question was: can I make graphs? That's true. I think we need to go back to the mysterious variable that makes up such a large portion of the US news algorithm the Peer assessment score US news asks every college president Provost and admissions Dean in the country to rank the academic reputation.
Every other college, in their category on a scale of one to five. If you listen to the previous episode, you'll know that I couldn't figure out how all those college president's came up with their peer assessment grades. I tried targeted Bob Morse who runs rankings? I had a long interview with a mysterious deep throat figure named dean, as we did appear assessment lightning round. I looked into whether hot sauce could sway the graters in the end. This be honest. I got nowhere, but then I realized. I could ask the Red College hackers to do a statistical analysis. What factors actually correlate with the appear assessments corps. That was my assignment forlorn rape. We were focusing on a few variables college endowment, which is just how much money they have in the bank. We were looking
tuition. How much it costs for a student to attend the person of students that are white. The percent of students that receive Pell grants- and I found that endowment by itself just the size of the endowment predicts half of the peer assessment score, so we can explain half of the assessments, the peers, Esben scored just by how much money a school has in the bank and on Wednesday. Start, adding the other the remaining school characteristics we end up with over ninety percent. Ninety one point: three percent: to be precise, it seems pretty clear that you can predict the reputation assigned to every college in the country with almost perfect accuracy. Just by spending a few minutes on Google Dillard Rep. Station. Score is two point: six, a terrible score by the way, but now we know why it's not because tours
thing very wrong with Dillard reputation. It's because Dillard falls short in all of the areas that make for a high score. There aren't a lot of white people on campus. The tuition is low compared with top liberal arts colleges, it's nineteen thousand dollars a year and Dillard's endowment is a minuscule a one hundred and five million dollars a top rank school. Like Williams College, has two billion more dollars in the Bank than Dillard. The next thing us news. News really cares about graduation graduation rates. What percentage of a freshman.
Get their degree within six years? U S news reward schools for having high graduation rates and they punish schools for low graduation rates on the theory that schools graduation rate tells you something about how well it educates and inspires its students. This metric seems seems to make a lot more sense than pure assessments course right, Dillard, the graduation rate is around fifty percent. How can we call a school good if half its students dont graduate but when I asked Walter Kimberly about this, here's what he said, of my one on one meetings with a freshman student last week and I asked. What's the best part about being a college student was the worst part, and she said the worst. For Her- was Thanksgiving Christmas, Taiwan's because I had to figure out what I was going to do live
you're a power for the way she say. I was like swimming You mean I was at the Moors Protocol is just, I don't know where I was Thursday. Think of how difficult it must be for that student to focus on staying in school. How can you planned for future when your life right now is so unstable and what happens when someone in your family gets loses or loses their job or has an accident of us? sudden the cost of sending you to school becomes overwhelming if the average family income of your student body is just over thirty thousand dollars a year. There is good! to be a lot of that for school like like us that year five percent pale Green eligible. She ever to rate is over? Fifty percent is almost miraculous because there are so many other factors that I just can't control. I can't control those family pieces and there I just can't control that just for cod
rest. The graduation rate at a school like Boden, currently number six on the Liberal Arts college rankings. Ninety five percent, everyone graduates, maybe because one in every five students at Boden comes from a family with an income in the top one percent, the worst part of Christmas. For a Boden student is deciding which, if their houses to go to no one's, dropping out a boat, not with daddy paying for everything, graduation rates, dont tell you how good a school is. They tell you what kind of students school is admitting My first conclusion in the project: Dillard investigation. Why is Dillard at the bottom of the rankings? They enroll
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I had the idea of conducting a thought experiment most The things that you s, news cares about, have to do with money? That's raise your academic reputation score. Wealthy students are also waymore lucky to graduate from school that boosts your schools, well, but there are many other variables in the? U S news rankings that are also really just about how much money a school has interbank variables like faculty resource. Financial resources per student average alumni, giving rate graduate indebtedness and on and on since I was curious about this- I am Robert Horse, who runs the? U S, news rankings is the basis for the assumption that the more money a school has a better quality. Education is schools, providing there's a number points? One is
You hardly ever hear of a college president's say: cut my budgets take away my programme fire. My faculty reduced, sports and the better school rare than that you see here Occasional leaders say that that lesson more so than this spending for students on Acta, programmes and on aspects of the education like that. You have a greater chance of having a richer academic experience and if you have spending. Then. You're gonna have less and were saying that in this case. More is better than less more is better than less I mean look. I mean, let's assume I'm getting paid one thousand dollars a year if you candidates had Malcolm. If I give you four thousand, would you be
a better writer, I would say absent. Absolutely I would be better, but that would be false there's no correlation between how much you pay Malcolm and how good Malcolm's writing is but that's a mature there. That analogy works in this particular case. Big cause you're dealing with you know a budget and in its buying me many different things and then in one humans, human being skill. In your analogy, your your article isn't gonna, be any better, even then, maybe you get some. Instead, have to work more all right. All right for the purposes of this thought. Experiment, let's stipulate. Has the lawyers say that more money is better than less money and simply proceed with the question of what would happen if Walter Kimberly were to wake up one morning and decide to do things? The? U S news way
further stipulate that, after this change of heart, a miracle occurs and someone gives didn't university a lot of money but say two billion a nice round number one in the real world, if you gave Walter Kimbro two billion, the first thing he would do is make Dillard bigger, give more students the benefit of a Dillard education. The problem is it yet. Another of the categories employed by the US news algorithm is student selectivity. How academically elite is the freshman class? You admit each year and the fastest way to an elite, freshman class, of course, is to let in as few freshmen as possible. So I give you two billion that you wouldn't that would improve your scores on their ranking, but if you are going to get bigger than they would they were doing for that they were hurt me they would hurry, they didn't want,
get bigger? That's right! The impetus does not yeah. That's right. Yes, it's not, of course it is, and if you're confused right now join the club. But let's put all that aside for a moment, we're doing a thought experiment here. A product Dillard and we're gonna play by free rule for dealer to rise in the rankings. It's pretty clear that the school needs to attract a different kind of student, the kind you wealthy enough that they give lots of money to the endowment once they graduate the kind who isn't worried about when they gonna eat and where they go to sleep, the kind who checks all the you. News boxes and how do you attract that kind of student amenities The big of this is the it raise razor ranking this little black school in the south has gotta start attracting more rich white
students, so my ideas will do anyway. They gonna track rich white students is if they have fancier dorms. I called up my old friend Vanessa she's in the luxury real estate person. But why uncertain deepen but why does a rich white didn't raise a ranking? Oh my god, such a good question. You have asked the question which which is the central question all of this, which is what Europe's you write. It makes no sense why Why does it matter that you have rich white students for some reason, U S. News algorithm is calculated in such a way that if you have rich white students, you do better but in order to get rich kids, you have to you have to induce them to come to your school, and I would like talk about inducement. Riches suppose As we were to build a tailored? credibly fancy door, the daughter
the hedge fund, guy from New York, I wanted walk in and say well gonna cost. What are we talking about here? You say: that you want to provided dorm. That looks like, sweet that they stay in when they're with their parents on a luxurious vacation. Yes, and what does that cost? Okay The way we calculate pricing is cost per key right. So We spend a minimum of two million dollars per key. Not including the land two million dollars per keep. That's what the wealthiest are expecting in terms of high quality living these days. We have very fine materials that we have throughout the world. Are you will never see? Drywall, for example, no driver so driver two million per key drywall is like verboten,
dirty word. Another example that we're doing swimming pools on the terraces recessed into the balcony, oh and in every room. That's it! I'm working on a new projects to which you could do this, and you could totally do this in the words of course, to go to college example. The college came to you and said I wanna dorm for two. I want a wow or for two hundred students. You think you could do that for four hundred dollars million yeah. I think we could yeah. You think you the kid the eighteen year old is going to walk in with daddy and dad is going to say, okay, you know little, what's her name, I don't know or Jenny Jenny? Jenny's gotta be happy here
Jenny is going to be happy. We were laughing about this because its absurd right, but just imagine that Walter Pembroke actually built the dorm. That Vanessa was imagining and that do Jennie the hedge funders daughter and all the other little Jenny's out there decided, as a result, to come to Dillard Dillard with start to rise immediately in the rankings. Why? Because those Jenny's are all going to graduate and the algorithm will love that and after graduation, that Jenny's will make, generous gifts to Dillard Endowment, because Walter will give them naming rights for the brand new dinner. University students bar, then the other college president's we'll google that big endowment number. I start to give Dillard higher peers
Myths core, which will in turn, lead to more Jenny's, taking Dillard seriously until the parents, a Beverly Hills and Palm Beach, and the Upper EAST side will casually let it drop at the country club that can you believe it little. Jenny has gotten into Dillard, Remember: Kelly Mcconville of Red College, the leader of my Salting band of hackers, a collar back in double, checked the mass run, the numbers on a Dillard full of Jenny's through her simulated. U S news algorithm, so Williams. Is the top ranked liberal arts college within it, meant of over two point: eight billion dollars, Humphrey, take Williams, financials and put them in. For Dillard Dillard goes from one sixty one to be
tied for, one or three, so wait despises suggesting. Yet so we haven't changed any of the fundamentals in the Classroom we haven't changed the enthusiasm of the teachers. We changed you know. The spirit of the student we haven't changed. All we ve done is there we have clunk a very. Large amount of money in the bank, account of Dillard exactly that vaults them from the bottom of the pack to essentially the middle yep. Okay, let's keep going yeah. So next he gave us a slightly trickier one where we are now gonna layer. On top of all that the test scores. Oh, I nearly forgot test scores another key: U S news factor! In all likelihood our journeys had private tutor to help them raised there s a they went to private prep schools, but take standardized.
Really really seriously. This is a variable with Jenny's name written all over it. So what? If Walter Kimberly told all of his lower achieving students to go home and rebuild olive Dillard around only the highest test, score Jenny's. What would that do for the schools rank? Now they went from one of three to forty three went up sixty slabs just by adjusting those two variables like to Hell, with this antiquated notion of trying to educate a large swathes of students who want to come to new world to attend a pc hbcu, we're just creams skimming from now on right. I can we get them higher than forty three. She said she,
we can begin going through remaining items. Under: U S news checklist, and lo and behold, this was a test. Are shining do Dillard Aced, I mean teacher student ratios. There too. Now we ve told half our students to go home but he resources- Normous were loaded. I mean no, what school, we're lookin at now, but this school We cranked. All of those things turned all of those dials means this new Dillard is ranked third wow, so that is how we can get Diller into the tippy top tier of liberal arts colleges. So it's Williams, Amherst dealer Swarthmore, yes, Project Dillard has given us a new school with a very different soundtrack. Can we convince Yale too low
them? The whip inputs applause, here's kid like Walter Kimbro would know the biblical lesson here, mark eight hundred and thirty six for what shall it for a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul. Such ass. We what if there was a superhero
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well, let zip recruiter save the day. Just go to zip recruiter, dot com, Slash Gladwell,. When Walter Kimbro gave me his tour of the Dillard Campus, he talked about the things that made Dillard special. We have certain things, and I got here realise that we have this dispute export room people and talk about it. There, at the time I think, was number two in a country for producing african Americans who get undergraduate degrees in physics, but they right now we ranked number three, but if,
do it per capita we're number one. We've been number one for a while in two thousand and nineteen Dillard produced thirteen african american physics, grads according to Department of Education Numbers Harvard produce one. In the past ten years, Dillard has graduated thirty five black physics grads Harvard five. Now you might say that's just because Harvard doesn't have a lot of black students. That's not true. Harvard admitted over three hundred black
undergraduates this year, which is about the same as Dillard. Ok, is it because Dillard students are smarter than horvitz, more capable of handling physics, not true harbours, harboured, think it the best high schoolers in the nation. So why is Diller doing so much better? It turns out that this same pattern is true of each BC use as a group when it comes to producing graduates in stem science, math engineering and technology, black schools punch way above their weight? What akimbo brought up the other big you in New Orleans just down the road from Dillard, Xavier University, not terribly big or rich, either Xavier, wasn't foreigners or nineteen twenty five apple, but they really gain and no variety, because they really leaning on sending people in medical school, and so they say more people to medical school
in any school in the catch. The explanation seems to be that most schools. There is a huge problem in stem with what educators referred to as leakages student start out majoring in science in math, but then they change majors and the problem is most pronounced, had selective schools, these institutions cream off the top, so to speak. That's Mitchell, Chang, education, no research. What you see allay, who has studied the problem? and those who don't make it to the top find themselves losing a confidence to continue? and I M and leave stem the stem feel then, and their pursuit of this stemmed degree altogether. But at the hundred or so historically, black colleges in the United States places like Dillard the stem pipeline isn't making. If I was a martian looking at this, I would say: will harbour should be able to
identify every one of these struggling students and them and help them into them and get them through. That doesn't happen. I think you kind of head on an important fact here the difference between what each BC use do what these highly selective often refer to was ultimately why institutions or p W eyes do And one is you no more geared towards creaming off the top and the other one be much more developmental, meaning Stewed where they're, at and lifting them developing them to achieve their potential meeting students, whether at Mitchell, Chang he's talking about academic culture about places at care and at this age pc? You seem to excel
While I was visiting Dillard Campus water Kimberly arranged for me to meet a group of students eight or so of us around a conference table, and this is all the students ended up talking about what it felt like to be it Dillard. I could get a good cod are to combat right now and say: hey I'm doing this. Can help me and will answer the phone. It's not straight to voice most. I think that's a really big. I, my advisers are the best they invested me. If I miss class, she will call me rafter classes over to make sure, ok one into. Why did I miss classed as important to go to class of by moroccan name pretty much all the administration is our walk in there, and I could see somebody I know for sure, and a genuine connection, relationship, so true family and I feel like up as much of our poor and they pour bag. Another student talked about how if you'd gone to a big university, things happening back home might have gotten away
we would be in school anymore. Unfortunately, because my friend I experienced a lot in my family and he was very, very difficult and had it not been for the faculty and the students here who cared about me like some of the students here sitting next to me, I don't think that I would still be in school. Do students at other small schools feel this way? Of course they do. Students at Williams and Amerson Swarthmore, probably feel part of a family too, but historically black colleges managed to take that community feeling and translated into a very effective academic culture and they're doing in a way where there, getting the same: talent pool their getting students who are more likely to be first generation students from or income families and who are
Now it is well prepared pursue a science degree. So it's quite remarkable a school helps its students succeed at the subject. They came to college to pursue. It creates a culture geared to helping students reach their potential, and it does all that for a price that working families can afford on a charming campus in the middle of an amazing city. Doesn't sound like the definition of an elite school. Some years ago, Walter Kimberly heard that an editor from U S NEWS was coming to speak at a nearby event was likely to schedule. I've gotta go here: U S news guy and I like an I gotta, have a chance to ask him a question. So I d and I said you know how do we know- justify Having a ranking system that basically measures privilege,
and if I want to have a good ranking, I need to make sure I keep out poor students, black students, parttime student, nontraditional studious. If I do those things my ranking is high, He could answer that question he said. Well, you know, is America is how measure merit and blah blah blah. There's an older gentleman afterwards came and laughed at me. He said he didn't want to as requested because that's all game is like this the formula it is the formula rankings places all in a world with a clear set of rules that more is better than less rich is better than poor. White is better than black. None of us think we want to be part of that world. But when college presidents dutifully send in their forms every year to us news when high school students battle with each other over
gets to go to the higher rank school. When parents boast about jenny got into this school or that school, where all complicit in the game Will you promise me that you're just stand up, and you say those gentlemen? Can we all just to drop out of the EU s new thing right now? Yeah but you gotta be folks who, like I they are so this is this important year, persuasive guy, I think I feel like you could do that, you think I could do it. You have a little bit of your dad and you just stand up and preach yeah I would need to have recommended that this second referendum mounted, really trying to make it happen, where, in a day ahead
The vicious history is produced by mere Labelle lemmings Stew and Jacob Psmith with envy latin and on- and I are is Julia. Barton original scoring really scared mastering Flown Williams, engineering by Martin, Gonzales fact checking by Amy gains special thanks to the Pushkin crew had a thing Carly make Liore Maya caning debt Ella con Maggie Taylor Alexander Nicole, Murano, Jason, Gambro and, of course, Jacob Iceberg special thanks also to the Dillard University choir and their director, Samuel Davenport, I'm mountains. Dont forget my. Latest book. The bomber mafia, which is an expansion of several episodes from the last season provision, is history. You can find it wherever books are sold, but by the audio book at bomber, mafia dot com
and you'll get a bonus listeners guide and you can listen in the podcast app you're using now over twenty three November, twenty eight Hamilton returns to Philadelphia tickets or on sale now for the Tony alleviate Grammy an Pulitzer Prize winning musical coming to the Kimmel Cultural Campus, this fall. It's the story of America, then told by America now featuring a score that blends here. Pop jazz are and be an Broadway Hamilton has created a revolutionary moment in theatre performances, begin October, twentieth for six weeks only get tickets now a camel cultural campus dot. Org spending moron groceries this pasture, wanting to order. Some weekday take out what
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Transcript generated on 2021-08-14.