Kori Austera

After Miami University received low Amarks in diversity in The Princeton Review’s 2009 rankings, Rob Franek, vice president of Princeton Review, and Heather Ladriere, executive director of Princeton Review, were invited to Miami University Sept. 19 for a closer look at the community.

“We felt there was an opportunity for Princeton Review to learn more about what goes on (at Miami),” said Dionn Tron, associate vice president for university communications.

The Princeton Review never visited Miami in an official capacity, Tron said.

Christine Taylor, associate vice president for institutional diversity, said the visit was important because it is difficult to evaluate a place one has never seen.

Tron agreed.

“When people experience something, they can write a more accurate depiction of what a place is about,” Tron said.

Tron believed the meeting with Franek and Ladriere was productive and reflected well on Miami.

“(Franek and Ladriere) got a flavor for (Miami’s commitment to) experiential learning,” Tron said. “We wanted to give the opportunity to learn about the programs Miami has, and the projects that students are involved with.”

Taylor agreed that Princeton Review’s visit to Miami was a success.

“(Franek) said he had a very positive experience here on campus and really enjoyed his visit … it was an information gathering time for (them),” Taylor said.

While at Miami, Franek and Ladriere had opportunities to meet with faculty, staff and a wide range of students, Taylor said.

Franek and Ladriere had breakfast at the art museum and spoke to Miami tribe members about the relationship between Miami students and the tribe.

Both were also interested in Miami’s Over-the-Rhine residency program, where students live in urban Cincinnati for a semester while addressing social justice and racial inequalities, according to Tron.

Taylor and Tron also said they caution prospective students about focusing solely on rankings.

“The Princeton Review is important, but how we choose to develop Miami-our community-is more important,” Taylor said. “The larger question is not trying to impress Princeton Review but trying to make decisions about who we want to be.”

According to Taylor, the Princeton Review survey asks students about their experiences at Miami and is conducted every three years.

Taylor and Tron both emphasized that the rankings are determined by student responses.

“What will students say about campus?” Taylor said. “With respect to diversity issues, that really is a function of how students choose to construct their experience at Miami … We’re putting a call out for students to learn more about other peoples, other cultures, to make this a campus that actively works toward change. “

According to Tron, The Princeton Review will survey Miami students this year, but neither Tron nor Taylor know when.

Tron added that she hopes that Franek and Ladriere’s experience at Miami “will provide a better reflection of Miami students today.”

In the Princeton Review 2009 Best 368 Colleges Rankings, Miami was 11th for “Alternative Lifestyles Not An Alternative,” fourth for “Homogenous Student Population,” and second for “Little Race/Class Interaction.”