- The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education — a decades-old system that groups together institutions with similar research activity and educational purposes — is no longer moving to Albion College, a private nonprofit liberal arts institution in Michigan with roughly 1,500 students.
- In November, Albion announced it would be assuming operational and administrative responsibilities for the Carnegie Classifications from Indiana University, where they've been administered since 2014.
- But those plans were scrapped after Mathew Johnson stepped down from the college's presidency amid calls for his resignation. The Carnegie Classifications will remain at Indiana University while a new home is sought, according to a Carnegie Foundation spokesperson.
The Carnegie Classifications are a highly revered resource in higher education. Researchers use them to build representative samples for their work, institutions use them to find similar colleges, and federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations use them for reporting and analysis, according to Victor Borden, project director of the Carnegie Classifications.
The classifications' new home stands to heavily affect the system. Borden highlighted several major changes to the classifications since they have been at the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University.
Those changes included moving to a three-year update schedule to accommodate the speed of change in higher education, restructuring the categories for two-year colleges and retooling the subcategories for doctoral and research universities to recognize the expansion of professional graduate training, Borden wrote in an email.
The Carnegie Foundation, which created and owns the classifications, began seeking a new home for them because Borden, who is a professor at Indiana University's School of Education, is planning to retire in about two years.
"It will no longer fit well within our research center," Borden wrote, "as the two faculty who focus on this area of research, myself and former Classification director Alex McCormick, are retiring soon so we did not ask the Foundation even to consider that it remain at IU."
But shortly after Albion was tagged as the classifications' new home, changes unfolded at the Michigan college.
Albion announced on Christmas Eve that Johnson resigned from his position after leading the university since July 2020. It also said he was stepping into the role of president of the Commission on Public Purpose in Higher Education, which Albion in November said it would launch to become the home of the Carnegie Classifications.
Lisa Gonzales, a Carnegie Foundation spokesperson, said the organization will not be working with the commission and no longer has any affiliation with Johnson. An Albion spokesperson said the college hasn't made a decision yet on whether to scrap plans for the commission and deferred other questions to the Carnegie Foundation.
Johnson faced pressure to resign from a petition on Change.org, which accused him of ignoring the needs of people of color and bullying staff and students. The petition garnered more than 2,300 signatures calling for his departure.
Plans to relocate to Albion were made in part because of Johnson's ties with its elective classifications, Gonzales said.
The system has an elective classification called the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, a designation that recognizes institutions' efforts to engage with their broader communities to exchange knowledge and resources.
Gonzales said Johnson had successfully led the development and growth of the elective classifications while at Brown University, where he was the executive director and a senior fellow of the Swearer Center for Public Service.
Albion has housed the classification for community engagement since July 2020, when Johnson became the institution's president, according to the college's November announcement. The foundation now plans to house both the elective and original classifications at one institution, Gonzales said.
The Carnegie Foundation is exploring other institutions that could meet its criteria for housing the Carnegie Classifications and expects to make arrangements in the next few months. Criteria include a commitment to educational equity, institutional credibility, policy expertise, analytic and technical ability, the resources required to support the development and administration of the classifications, and the capacity to engage the higher education community in their refinement and use, Gonzales said.