Bragging Rights

Bostonist takes the chance to heckle MIT in celebrating Northeastern’s computer scientists that have managed to solve Rubik’s Cube in only 26 moves, a new record.

Chalk one up for Northeastern, who’s been working overtime on climbing the coveted U.S. News and World Report ranks, incl. by firing faculty no longer considered prestigious enough for the university since they lack PhDs.

Perhaps in this they could learn some sure-fire strategies on cleaning house from MIT: on June 30, 2007, we changed the locks on former BE Prof. James Sherley’s lab:

Peter C. Dedon, associate director of the BE Department, said that it was unfortunate Sherley had to be locked out of his laboratory but that it is “the way things are done.”

Brutal.  I’ve written in the past my views on the Sherley case, which remain unchanged despite the ruckus generated by disengenous behavior on both sides (though I’ve not been vociferous enough that the Institute has a major problem on its hands that its reputation lends itself perfectly to charges of bias and discrimination).  Indeed, the purpose of this post was hardly to chirp about institutional bias and politics.

Rather, the Rubik’s announcement followed a fun little debate I had at dinner last night with a visiting PhD from George Mason in VA and his brother, a PhD in CompSci from Northeastern.  Our GMU friend wanted us to rank Boston universities in order of reputation, which immediately devolved into whether Harvard or MIT had greater global recognition.  While it irks me to no end that visitors to Boston go out of their way to visit Harvard and Harvard Sq., my NU friend was on my side in pointing out that MIT enjoys its own global fan treks, especially large groups from E. Asia (though I did give directions to the dome to a little old lady from Russia who’d, upon arriving in Boston, made sure to set aside an afternoon to visit the infamous MIT).  We concluded that the countries in which technical degrees are highly esteemed – e.g., India, China, S. Korea, Russia – MIT is the nirvana of higher education.

And given the chunk of the world’s population that comprises these nations, we concluded that MIT indeed might surpass that other Cambridge university’s clout.

Translating that brand recognition into endowment $$, now that’s another story.

Note: Robin Leach will return next week as the host of of Lifestyles of the Smart & Famous.




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