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Record of service earns MIT top ranking

For the second year in a row, MIT has been named the No. 1 university in the country, according to Washington Monthly's annual ranking of universities based on their service to the world.

"While other guides ask what colleges can do for students, we ask what colleges are doing for the country," Washington Monthly said in unveiling its rankings for the first time in August 2005. Washington Monthly is a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.

"Isn't it important for taxpayers to know whether their money -- in the form of billions of dollars in research grants and student aid -- is being put to good use?" Washington Monthly asked.

"When colleges are doing what they should, they benefit all of us. They undertake vital research that drives our economy. They help Americans who are poor to become Americans who will prosper. And they shape the thoughts and ethics of the young Americans who will soon be leading the country," the magazine editors said.

With this in mind, the magazine used three central criteria in determining the rank of a university: "how well it performs as an engine of social mobility (ideally helping the poor to get rich rather than the very rich to get very, very rich), how well it does in fostering scientific and humanistic research, and how well it promotes an ethic of service to country."

Harvard and Princeton universities, which tied for first this year in the well-known U.S. News & World Report rankings, placed 28th and 43rd in the Washington Monthly rankings. U.S. News ranked MIT seventh in 2006. MIT and Stanford were the only schools to break into the top 10 on both lists.

"MIT earned its No. 1 ranking not because of its groundbreaking research (although that didn't hurt), but on the basis of its commitment to national service," said Washington Monthly last year.

"MIT leading the Washington Monthly rankings for a second year is phenomenal," said Sally Susnowitz, assistant dean and director of the MIT Public Service Center.

"The first ranking helped MIT to gain recognition for its institutional priorities; this year publicly celebrates MIT's consistent commitment to inclusiveness, practical research, social mobility and public service," Susnowitz said.

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