Ottino can’t forget students

The new dean of the McCormick School of Engineering, Julio Ottino, has big plans for his school.

Ottino told a group of students Wednesday that he plans to give more attention to propping up McCormick’s research and sagging rankings than its teaching.

“Why be on the top?” he asked students. “Because everything comes easier to the school.”

And, to an extent, he’s right. For better or worse, college rankings are crucial. Well-ranked schools attract money, good students and, down the line, good teachers. Besides, who among us did not consider Northwestern, at least in part, because of its rank?

But rank isn’t not everything, and some McCormick students expressed worry that teaching at the engineering school is getting short shrift.

In his pursuit of rank and research, Ottino must remember that he presides over a school, not a laboratory. If research is going to get more attention than teaching, make sure students stay involved in it.

Many McCormick students say that their time spent doing research is among the most valuable experience they receive. We hope that Ottino recognizes this fact and keeps students’ interests at heart.