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Cali Owings, Published March 25 2014

Wikipedia-driven Time study shows UND, MSUM more influential than NDSU

FARGO – Compared to other local colleges, North Dakota State University lacks influential alumni.

At least that’s what a new online tool by Time magazine shows. It measures the sway of both the University of North Dakota and Minnesota State University Moorhead as stronger than NDSU’s – which is on par with Concordia College’s despite being far larger.

The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks is 8.2 times more influential than NDSU, according to the tool Time released last week comparing universities based on the Wikipedia pages of living alumni.

UND’s long list of National Hockey League stars helps contribute to its lead in influence over NDSU. Oh, and Phil Jackson, the NBA coach with the league’s most titles.

NDSU’s chief claims to fame, by Time’s reckoning, includes former Congressman Rick Berg, R-N.D., National Football League safety Craig Dahl and Neil Wagner, a pitcher who has had a couple of brief stints in the majors.

The study pegs MSUM as about four times more influential than NDSU, mostly based on its alumni in the entertainment industry. Notable names on its list of notables include political pundit Ed Schultz and Kevin Sorbo, an actor who once played Hercules in a television show.

Time gives Concordia credit for Berg’s successor, Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., journalist Roxana Saberi and Clint Hill, the Secret Service agent who was working on the first lady’s security detail when President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas in 1963.

The measurements of influence are based on the number of words in a given personal Wikipedia profile, as well as the number of internal and external links and the categories to which it belongs. Time scored the profiles of 107,408 living people whose Wikipedia profiles list an alma mater.

Though UND’s influence trumps NDSU’s, no regional college even comes close to the University of Minnesota’s purported clout.

The U of M is almost 60 times more influential than NDSU, based on the Time comparison. It likely owes a big share of that supposed influence to the voluminous Wikipedia page of former student – and one-time Fargo resident – Robert Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan.

Though Dylan dropped out, his Wikipedia entry with nearly 400 footnotes and 43 references counts toward the U of M’s total.

Since Time’s tool only uses living alumni, some of its alumni worthy of a page on Wikipedia – a user-edited online encyclopedia – didn’t count, including ex-New York Giants receiver Stacy Robinson and former North Dakota governors William Guy and Arthur Link.

While NDSU is gaining attention on a national scale due to its recent athletic prowess – hosting ESPN’s College GameDay last fall, winning three consecutive NCAA Division I football championships and winning a game in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament – some of its vanquished athletic rivals are more influential.

The University of Oklahoma, beaten by the Bison in the NCAA tournament last week, is almost 36 times more influential than NDSU. Counting Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson as an alumnus certainly helps.

Sam Houston State University, which the Bison toppled twice in Football Championship Subdivision title games, is actually 3.8 times more influential than NDSU thanks to journalist Dan Rather and athletes including football players Josh McCown, Rhett Bomar and Blake Anderson.

Online:

To check out the rankings, go online to ti.me/1djfTve.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599