Talk:Flagship university

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I find it funny that a Florida State University student continues to edit the page to include Florida State as a co-flagship university in the state of Florida (I'm actually a doctoral student at Florida State myself). The University of Florida is the clear lone flagship institution in the state of Florida. Their entrance scores are substantially higher in literally every department, their ranking far exceeds FSU, USF, or UCF, and their overall research record and research rankings far exceed any of the other state universities. In addition, their endowment is over two times that of FSU's. As a matter of fact, Florida State University only adopted its current name in 1947 (it was the Florida State College for Women until '47).

Also, how is Mississippi State University not a co-flagship university with the University of Mississippi (I have nothing to do with either of these two)? Mississippi State has a larger overall enrollment, and yet actually has higher entrance scores for incoming freshmen. In addition, Mississippi State University contains more overall departments, and in turn awards the most phDs annually of any school in the state of Mississippi. (talk) 23:19, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

According to the USA today article (which is being used as the primary source of this page), it lists FSU as a flagship in Florida. Like it or not its there, although i do object to using that article as a reference. Bvjrm (talk) 04:39, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
We could figuratively throw in the towel and simply list the schools that USA Today did, but if that's the decision then the page should be renamed as "USA Today's list of flagship universities" and the introductory language about what constitutes a "flagship" should be removed, because USA Today's list is plainly overinclusive. As I think about this article, I find I have some sympathy with the editor below who wondered, what's the point of it at all? But it's here, and so long as it is, we may as well try to do it right. JohnInDC (talk) 13:56, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Why FSU is a Flagship University[edit]

As one of the authors of the Florida State University page I can tell you exactly why FSU is considered a "flagship" university. The history of the university, the traditions of the university, the law of the state and the political reckoning therein. FSU has actually more of these qualities than UF does, though some seem to acknowledge UF but deny FSU. Check out the history of FSU sometime. Then we have a few suggest research monies, SAT scores and magazine ratings make the difference, which does not meet the other qualities often stated, like origin. You just cannot get it both ways...either you accept the history, law and all that or you just drop the term and say "highest rated". If the other qualities matter, then up to about 1905 FSU (which was coed) was clearly the "flagship" of Florida, before it was changed into the female-only school and UF was created from several other schools.
Dr Berdahl, the now deceased chancellor at UC Berkeley had the best definition, which considers the origin and current state as to "flagship" in a 1998 speech here: Even the (now ex) Florida governor says the two are flagship schools here: Sirberus (talk) 12:04, 25 August 2008 (UTC)


"First, I did not designate them as flagships to the exclusion of others," Spitzer said when asked those questions after his budget briefing Tuesday. "But I think that they are uniquely positioned very rapidly to move to that status." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:07, 7 March 2008 (UTC)


No way is UCLA a flagship school of the UC system. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:09, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

UCLA is widely know as being a flagship, and it's noted as such in the USA Today poll (User:Jccort) 09:21, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

While I see how UCLA could be considered a flagship of the UC system, the USA Today chart you refer has some flaws. SUNY has four, not two, flagship universities. It ignored SUNY-Albany and Binghamton University. Also, University of Nevada-Reno, known as the University of Nevada outside Nevada, and Georgia Tech is not listed. They both should be there.

I've edited the states of California and Texas to include UCLA and UT-Austin, respectively. In regard to the University of California, since there is no established flagship campus, it would perhaps be inappropriate to talk of one. But if the term "flagship" is to refer to the "best" campus in the system, then both UC Berkeley and UCLA should be included. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 22:21, 28 October 2007

I really don't want to start an edit war, but I've reinstated UCLA and Berkeley as the two flagships for the state of California, since they are both equally selective at the undergrad level, very similar at the grad level and are both almost universally acknowledged to be the leading UCs. But if anyone disagrees with this classification, you would have to explain why this is wrong. Until then, it stays as it is. (Alex1985)

Technically the flagship university of the University of California system is the campus at Berkeley [1][2]. The original campus of the Cal system was the campus at Berkeley. However, I'm not going to edit this, because UCLA is a very good school, better than many flagship schools throughout the nation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:42, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Actually, the original public institution of higher learning in California was San Jose State University, now a constituant of the California State University. San Jose State University should probably be added to this list. Streltzer (talk) 00:33, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
San Jose State was the original public institution of the Cal State system, but until they start calling themselves simply Cal State University (and I have no clue why they do not do this, particularly from an athletics standpoint) or have the Cal State System designate SJSU as the flagship campus, they are not a flagship.

USA Today did a classification in 2006[edit]

--I just think that we should use their 75 Universities that they used to say which Public Universities are their respective Flagships of their state. I am sure the less schools will be upset, however it's the historic leaders, and should be acknowledged as such. Just my opinion. (User:Rothamell) —Preceding comment was added at 01:40, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

Flagship definition[edit]

Isn't the easiest definition the University in the State system receiving the largest slice of the funding pie? Alatari (talk) 03:42, 8 January 2008 (UTC)


What is the point of this article? Academic, encyclopedic, or simply marketing and promotion for certain universities and their motivated alumni? This article should be deleted, and deleted promptly. Streltzer (talk) 00:33, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

Don't Delete[edit]

  • Interesting someone from a California State University System would want to delete the Flagship distinction. This is clearly not marketing and is a historic distinction. (User:Jccort) 00:44, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

MSU ?[edit]

Michigan State University is not a university "system" within the state of Michigan. As far as I'm aware, the only university system is U-M. (User:LakeshoreLancer2004) 17:55, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

MSU is a flagship of Michigan... just as U-M is. but for god sakes... how is Western Michigan and Wayne State both listed as well? Those schools have very low test scores and are for people who couldn't get into U-M or MSU. (Aventius (talk) 04:01, 1 June 2008 (UTC))

Flagship is singular[edit]

Many states have two (or more) excellent state universities; often, one may exceed the other on one or another measure of excellence. But a state with two excellent universities has that - not two flagships. "Flagship" is a singular term - a good reference for the word generally can be found here. In this context, "flagship" means, as the introduction says, "the leading comprehensive public research university in a given U.S. state". (The only sort of exception that makes sense in this context is a system like New York's, where the state university system resembles a system of franchises more than anything else.) With this in mind I've edited the list to remove some schools that are plainly not a state's "flagship". I left a state's entry alone if I wasn't sure, and so some double-entries do remain; someone who knows those schools better should fix those.

As the edit summary says, I also removed a couple of external links that required paid subscriptions in order to view, per WP:Links to be avoided. JohnInDC (talk) 13:39, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Tempted to nominate for deletion[edit]

For a few weeks now I've been watching this list morph and grow (and occasionally contract), and I confess that I am at a loss to understand the criteria being used for inclusion on or exclusion from this list. I took a crack at narrowing the field a while ago, proceeding from the logical (and, I thought, largely uncontroversial) premise that "flagship" was a singular term, bestowed on the one school in a state's university system that staked the greatest claim to excellence, tradition, public financial support and the like. I still think the premise is logical (not to mention consistent with the historical use of the term "flagship") but it is increasingly clear that there's no agreement at all on that.

Well, okay - maybe a state can have two flagships. Two unique schools, as it were. But two seems to be no limit either. In trying to find some useful, meaningful definition for the term, I learned, for example, that the State of Michigan appears to consider that it has *at least* four flagships - not just the University of Michigan (IMO the obvious candidate) but also Michigan State, Wayne State, Western Michigan, and perhaps others not identified in this one clipping. See here.

Of course it doesn't matter for the purposes of a Wikipedia article that a state might have two or four or six flagships, if one can say with some confidence what a flagship is. The problem is that there does not seem to be any generally agreed definition of "flagship" that can be applied to determine whether a school is, or isn't, a flagship. The definition set forth in this article is not helpful. The only part of it that everyone would agree on, I think, is that it a flagship needs to be a large(ish) public research university. No private schools, no small special-purpose colleges. Beyond that, we have nothing. The flagship may or may not be the largest school, may or may not be the best known, may or may not be the oldest, may or may not be the best funded, may or may not bear the state's name, may or may not be a land grant college. The more I think about it, I don't think there *is* a useful way to define the term. And, given that there appears to be no limit to the number of "flagships" in a state then eventually the term simply comes to mean, "a big public university that someone, at some time, has described as a 'flagship'". At that point the article becomes meaningless, literally a compendium of schools that at one point or another have had the label attached to them, or *could* have the label attached to them, by excelling in -- something.

I am coming to think that the term "flagship university" is irredeemably subjective, POV, and unverifiable (probably OR too); that for those reasons this article fails a variety of the tests set forth at Wikipedia:Overcategorization, and is a good candidate for deletion.

Thoughts? JohnInDC (talk) 14:23, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

At the very least... Western MIchigan and Wayne State need to be removed as flagships. Its a joke to have them listed. I support MSU being included. (Aventius (talk) 04:04, 1 June 2008 (UTC))
From a personal point of view, I agree. When I think of "flagships", I really don't think of Wayne or WMU as among them. But personal points of view are the essential problem with this article. It's now plain that "flagship university" means pretty much whatever people want it to. Whatever you and I may think about including Wayne and WMU in the mix, education officials within the state have referred to those schools as "flagships" (see the reference), and so they should be included. I really don't think there's any coherent, NPOV basis for leaving them off in this case. JohnInDC (talk) 10:48, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
To illustrate further how arbitrary the whole thing is, here's an additional article that includes WSU and WMU as "flagships". And here is one from a couple years later that has Wayne in, but Western out. And neither of these of course comports with the commonsense notion that the flagship in Michigan is the University of Michigan (plus Michigan State, if the term is not singular). So much confusion - and that's just in one state. JohnInDC (talk) 12:49, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Short of deletion, we could leave the general description and definition in place, but remove the state-by-state listings, which cannot be constructed in any meaningful or reliable fashion (not to mention the list's tendency to attract stray edits from folks with their own axes to grind). Objections? Alternatives? This page does need a bit of help - JohnInDC (talk) 15:22, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

Rather than delete material, I have attempted to qualify the listing to make clear that it lays no claim to definitiveness or authority. This is, I think, the best way to handle the inherent problem of trying to include, or exclude, particular schools on the basis of an inherently vague definition -- an approach which is, finally, just an invitation to squabbles between partisans of different schools (abundantly evidenced by the edit history of this article). JohnInDC (talk) 16:36, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
The squabbles continue. I think the listing needs to go. See below. JohnInDC (talk) 04:21, 14 June 2008 (UTC)


The state of Texas has 3 different University systems; University of Texas system, Texas A&M University system, and Texas Tech University system. All public state-level Universities fall into one of those systems. Shouldn't all three be included as flagship universities? Ndenison (talk) 04:36, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

Indeed, each is the flagship of its university system. In Alabama, UA(T) is the flagship of its system, and Auburn is the flagship of its system. So, in Texas, each you mention are flagships of their systems. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:56, 17 March 2009 (UTC)


UGA and Georgia Tech should both be considered flagship universities. While UGA has larger enrollment, Tech is involved in much more research and has several campuses throughout the world. Ndenison (talk) 04:38, 10 June 2008 (UTC)


The University of Iowa is listed as a flagship university, although Iowa State has a virtually identical enrollment. In 2010, the SAT and ACT scores of incoming freshmen were also virtually identical (see for the U of I and for Iowa State). Each is an AAU school. In 2010, Iowa State had 47 incoming National Merit Scholars to the University of Iowa's 26 [3]. The biggest difference is that Iowa State is more engineering, science, and ag, while the University of Iowa emphasizes liberal arts and graduate professional programs, although that hardly seems like the basis for either school claiming "flagship" status over the other. Ottoump (talk) 19:58, 24 November 2011 (UTC)

Proposed Deletion[edit]

This topic is almost impossibly to in verify. It will always be a hotbed for edit warring. Ndenison (talk) 13:56, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

I was thinking the same thing myself just this morning. Let's see if someone can salvage it. JohnInDC (talk) 13:59, 12 June 2008 (UTC)
I've been reverting editing, mostly people removing UCLA. I tried to direct them to the discussion here to no avail. There's no definitive sources on the topic, it really is subjective. They'll be hundreds of school on the list in a few months. Ndenison (talk) 14:05, 12 June 2008 (UTC)
Well, finally it's just silly. Even the states themselves give the term wide berth because by designating one or two schools "flagships" they risk ticking off the other state schools in the system, and to no worthwhile end. Finally it's all just opinion, propped up by whatever facts one can muster in support of, or in opposition to, a particular school. JohnInDC (talk) 14:16, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

I took WP:BOLD to heart and simply removed the state-by-state listing. The general definition of "flagship" isn't really controversial, I don't think; the problem is that it is so general and vague - and subjective - that there really is no basis for including, or excluding a particular school. With a very few exceptions, any such list is inherently unverifiable and really has no place in a Wikipedia article. JohnInDC (talk) 04:14, 14 June 2008 (UTC)

Thats probably the only thing we could do short of deleting the article. I totally agree with the move. Ndenison (talk) 14:11, 14 June 2008 (UTC)
I disagree that there's no basis for including/excluding a particular school: if the system to which the university belongs designates it as the flagship, it's the flagship. See for an example.--SarekOfVulcan (talk) 13:43, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

delete This article is a near duplicate of the other flagship article here: Flagship#University_campuses. Sirberus (talk) 12:13, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Virginia example[edit]

I removed the "naming" example that used UVA and VT. Virginia has always made it a point to not label any of their schools as flagships. This example was obviously pulled from the USA Today article and would be considered original research. Bvjrm (talk) 07:56, 14 June 2008 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

I think this article should be merged into Flagship#University_campuses. J3ff (talk) 09:08, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree. JohnInDC (talk) 12:23, 2 January 2009 (UTC)
Count me in. Ndenison talk 21:08, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
AGAINST this is a very important distinction. I am sorry if some people are sore that their alma mater is not the State Flagship, but you can not change history. NorwalkJames (talk) 22:15, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
MERGEPretty dumb subject as-is and we should conserve the electrons. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:50, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
AGAINST It shouldn't be merged. It's a legally-descriptive term distinguishing the primary university in any university system, and it has relevance to anyone doing federally-funded research where certain grants require that principal investigators reside at flagship universities, and not branch campuses or centers. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:54, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
It's not legally descriptive in the least. To the contrary, as these Talk page comments reveal, the term is meaningless. Some states claim more than one flagship. Alumni of rival schools argue about whose alma mater can lay true claim to flagship status. If the term were "legally descriptive" then we'd have a better list of purported "flagship" schools than an aging, ad hoc list from USA Today. This Wikipedia article adds nothing to the discussion found within the discussion of the more general term "flagship" and the articles should be merged. This one is just taking up index space needlessly. JohnInDC (talk) 14:05, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

This question has been lingering long enough. Taking a page from WP:Bold, I merged the two pages. JohnInDC (talk) 03:33, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

Is being a flagship university an objective fact? What does it mean?[edit]

I'm trying to clarify whether being a flagship university is like being the president of a company, i.e. an unambiguous position that's a fact, or whether it's like being the leading company in an industry, i.e. something subjective that should probably be reported as opinion rather than fact. What exactly does "flagship university" mean?

If "flagship university" is a subjective thing, like the leading company in an industry, then I think pages for individual universities should not assert that they are flagship universities. They might say they are considered to be flagship universities, or something (whatever can be supported by the sources). If it's an objective fact, like being the president of a company, that needs to be explained better on this page and sources supporting that need to be found. I think it may be that it is or was sometimes objective, but that the term is also used subjectively, so that we need to be careful and not just state that a university is a flagship university; instead, we can say that it has been referred to as a flagship university by (whatever source).

This came out of a discussion at Talk:University of Maine, but I think it's better for the discussion to be here, since it really applies to many pages about individual universities.

Here are some results from a Google Books search.

  • Everyone throws around terms like e 'tier-one,' 'flagship,' and I don't think we know what those are," said Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock. "'Flagship' is often just a marketing tool, and 'tier-one' means something different to everyone ... This bill says, 'This is what we want you to look like to be a national research university.'" [4] The Daily Texan Senate hears proposals for more tier-one schools Mohini Madgavkar Daily Texan Staff Published: Thursday, March 26, 2009
  • Google book page: Higher Education in the United States: An Encyclopedia By James J. F. Forest, Kevin Kinser Published by ABC-CLIO, 2002 ISBN 1576072487, 9781576072486 p. 576 "At the apex of the state system sites the flagship university. The flagship university is the most visible, best-funded and most prestigious public institution in the state. ..." [5]
  • Google book snippet "The university within each state that had the highest classification was designated as a flagship university. If more than one university received the" Minorities in American higher education By Alexander W. Astin Published by Jossey-Bass, 1982 Original from the University of Michigan Digitized Nov 4, 2008 ISBN 0875895239, 9780875895239 (Could be for a particular scientific study??)
  • Google book page that goes on about flagship u. in terms of texas u. [6] "A flagship university often is regarded as one of the oldest..."
  • Google book page Funding a college education: finding the right school for your child and the right fit for your budget By Alice Drum, Richard Kneedler Contributor Richard Kneedler Published by Harvard Business Press, 1996 ISBN 0875846289, 9780875846286 [7] p. 68 "Every state has its flagship university or universities, that is, the principle state university (or universities)."
  • Google book snippet "Some states, depending on how their state system evolved, may have more than one flagship university. Indiana, for example, has both the University of " [8] The Higher education--economic development connection: emerging roles for public colleges and universities in a changing economy By SRI International. Public Policy Center, American Association of State Colleges and Universities Published by American Association of State Colleges and Universities under a cooperative agreement with Economic Development Administration, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 1986 Original from the University of Michigan Digitized Nov 3, 2008 ISBN 0880440767, 9780880440769
  • Google book page p. 64 "By codifying the self-regulating authority of universities in the constitution, state constitutional conventions elevated the status of the flagship university to that of a "fourth branch of government" with authority co-ordinate to that of the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive ... Michigan was the first state to grant its flagship institution, the University of Michigan, constitutional standing, in 1850." Higher Education By John C. Smart, William G. Tierney Kluwer academic publishers Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research By John C. Smart, William G. Tierney Published by Springer, 2003 ISBN 1402012322, 9781402012327
  • Google book page p. 68 "... because the institution has long been regarded as the state's flagship university". (UGA) State Governments and Research Universities: A Framework for a Renewed Partnership By David J. Weerts Edition: illustrated Published by Routledge, 2002 ISBN 0415932475, 9780415932479 127 pages
  • Google book page [9] (returning the term "flagship" to the navy)
  • Google book page p. 2426 [10] "designated as the state's flagship university, Maryland ..." Peterson's Four-Year Colleges By Peterson's Edition: 38, illustrated Published by Peterson's, 2007 ISBN 0768924006, 9780768924008 3144 pages
  • Google book page"The University of Michigan enjoys a reputation within Michigan as the state's flagship university. [11] p. 162 Public and Private Financing of Higher Education: Shaping Public Policy for the Future By Patrick M. Callan Published by Greenwood Publishing Group, 1997 ISBN 1573565555, 9781573565554
  • Google book page; political capital and U. of Michigan [12]
  • Google book page flagship U. of church [13]
  • Google book snippet "217 Recognizing James Madison University as the flagship institution commemorating the bicentennial of the United States Constitution. ..." Virginia acts of the General Assembly By Virginia Published by Commonwealth of Virginia, Division of Purchases and Supply, 1987 Item notes: v. 2 [14]
  • Google book page p. 147 "The University of California chose the model of multiple 'flagship' campuses instead of the standard one 'flagship', and six UC campuses by 2000 were members of the Association of American Universities; no other state haed more than two public campuses as members, and the balance had only one." The Gold and the Blue: A personal memoir of the University of California, 1949-1967 By Clark Kerr, Marian L. Gade, Maureen Kawaoka Edition: illustrated Published by University of California Press, 2001 ISBN 0520223675, 9780520223677 [15]

Coppertwig (talk) 17:59, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

It is subjective and should be reported as opinion, rather than as fact. It is also somewhat pretentious and offensive to those who do not make the claim.
According to Robert Berdahl, former University of California, Berkeley chancellor,
...those of us in "systems" of higher education are frequently actively discouraged from using the term "flagship" to refer to our campuses because it is seen as hurtful to the self-esteem of colleagues at other institutions in our systems. The use of the term is seen by some as elitist and boastful. It is viewed by many, in the context of the politics of higher education, as "politically incorrect." ... Only in the safe company of alumni is one permitted to use the term. [1]
  1. ^ Robert M. Berdahl, Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley (1998-10-08). "The Future of Flagship Universities". Texas A&M University. Retrieved 2006-09-22.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)

[Emphasis added] Mervyn Emrys (talk) 13:56, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

See WP:WEASEL for Wikipedia guidelines on "some think that". In any case, if a university system wants to designate one of their campuses as the flagship, what's the big deal?--SarekOfVulcanExtra (talk) 19:22, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

Then if it is not merged or deleted, this article should be retitled as "List of Universities designated by the pertinent university system as flagship(s)", because that is the most it can be. There is no objective, meaningful definition of "flagship university" that permits a third party to ascertain whether or not a particular school is, or isn't, should or shouldn't be, a "flagship". They're not always the oldest, or with the largest enrollment, or the ones with the largest budgets. Sometimes there are more than one (see Michigan). We can, I suppose, agree on a very specific, quantifiable definition and then make a list (it would need to be something better than "someone somewhere in the state educational system said so") but I can't imagine that would be any kind of useful Wikipedia article. Finally, this concept is just a meaningless jumble of stuff, completely un-useful as an encyclopedia article *except* perhaps to illustrate that, in fact, the definition of "flagship university" is a meaningless jumble. JohnInDC (talk) 19:38, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

I said all of this about as well as I'm ever going to a year ago and further up the page, here. I can't for the life of me see how this subject warrants a separate article any longer. JohnInDC (talk) 19:41, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree. But the problem is the many other articles in Wikipedia about universities where the claim is made as fact that such and such a university "is the flagship university" of some system, without attribution of the claim. See University of Maine article, for example. If the claim is made, it should be attributed to a reliable source in the text. Mervyn Emrys (talk) 22:59, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
Bad example, Mervyn, because it is attributed to a reliable source.--SarekOfVulcan (talk) 00:11, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

I now appreciate that much of the foregoing back-and-forth is an outgrowth of another discussion at the University of Maine talk page. For the record, I think it's fine if the University of Maine system wants to designate the University of Maine campus located at Orono as the system's "flagship". The state can do what it wants. But of course so can Texas (two flagships - Texas, and Texas A&M) or Michigan (four flagships, or maybe three depending on what article you read). A state's flagship or flagships can be whatever the state says it is / they are. That's useful information for a page about the University of Maine, or Texas, or Western Michigan University - but it's just about worthless for this page, which purports to describe what the term *means*. No one knows, of course, what criteria these or any other states used to determine which of their many schools were the flagship(s) - it could be anything. And if the term can mean anything, then it's impossible to define. Viz. Humpty-Dumpty: "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less." JohnInDC (talk) 01:53, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

Good example, Sarek, because (contrary to your statement above) the statement at the University of Maine article is NOT prose-attributed as recommended in WP:NPOV, and by User:Coppertwig there. Nor is it prose-attributed in any other Wikipedia article where the claim is made, to the best of my knowledge. In effect, Sarek's position seems to be that POV pushing is ok when its him on his favored page.
The following four paragraphs quote from WP:NPOV. The first sentence of the University of Maine article, for example, does NOT conform to this standard. Neither do the others which fail to prose-attribute the statement without a reliable source, but falsely treat it as a statement of fact. Sarek, knows this, but is just playing with words to confuse the issue.
"The neutral point of view is neither sympathetic nor in opposition to its subject: it neither endorses nor discourages viewpoints. Articles should provide background on who believes what and why, and which view is more popular; detailed articles might also contain evaluations of each viewpoint, but must studiously refrain from taking sides."
"When we discuss an opinion, we attribute the opinion to someone and discuss the fact that they have this opinion. For instance, rather than asserting that "The Beatles were the greatest band ever", locate a source such as Rolling Stone magazine and say: "Rolling Stone said that the Beatles were the greatest band ever", and include a reference to the issue in which that statement was made. Likewise, the statement "Most people from Liverpool believe that the Beatles were the greatest band ever" can be made if it can be supported by references to a particular survey; a claim such as "The Beatles had many songs that made the UK Singles Chart" can also be made, because it is verifiable as fact. The first statement asserts a personal opinion; the second asserts the fact that an opinion exists and attributes it to reliable sources. [The second statement is appropriate for Wikipedia]."
"Sometimes, a potentially biased statement can be reframed into a neutral statement by attributing or substantiating it. For instance, "John Doe is the best baseball player" is, by itself, merely an expression of opinion. One way to make it suitable for Wikipedia is to change it into a statement about someone whose opinion it is: "John Doe's baseball skills have been praised by baseball insiders such as Al Kaline and Joe Torre," as long as those statements are correct and can be verified. The goal here is to attribute the opinion to some subject-matter expert, rather than to merely state it as true."
"Where a topic is presented in terms of facts rather than opinions, inappropriate tone can be introduced through the way in which facts are selected, presented, or organized. Neutral articles are written with a tone that provides an unbiased, accurate, and proportionate representation of all positions included in the article. The tone of Wikipedia articles should be impartial, neither endorsing nor rejecting a particular point of view."
Consequently, ALL such statements, unless prose-attributed in the article with a reliable source, appear to be nothing more than POV pushing. Yet, I guess little more can be expected from alumni and employees with emotional attachments to these institutions. They apparently care more about their emotional attachments than they care for Wikipedia policies. Mervyn Emrys (talk) 02:32, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
I don't think there's much question that the University of Maine System has designated that campus the "flagship", is there? We might take issue with whether the designation has any value, whether the notion has any actual content or meaning - or whether instead it's just a bunch of puffery, a self-awarded title that stands for nothing. All that's fair game, and as I've said here, it's why I think this particular article is pointless. But if a system wants to designate a flagship, and it does so (as Maine appears to have done for the main campus of the university) then it's fair to report that essentially meaningless fact in the article about the school. It's not a *whole* lot different, I think, than listing each year's Golden Globe winners! JohnInDC (talk) 03:07, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it's fine to say something like "the state of Maine has designated the University of Maine as its flagship university," if that's a verifiable fact. I think it's not OK to say simply "The University of Maine is a flagship university," as that may be somewhat meaningless or a matter of opinion. If being a flagship university is an objective fact, then there should be a specific, objective definition of it on this page (attributable to reliable sources); otherwise, apparently the definition may vary and it may be a matter of opinion. According to NPOV, we don't assert opinions as if they're facts. Coppertwig (talk) 23:36, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

There is an RfC on this question at Talk:University of Maine#Flagship RFC Coppertwig (talk)

It has not yet been verified. The only attribution provided is to a slogan on a home page, not to a document designating it as a "flagship." It needs prose attribution and a reliable source.Mervyn Emrys (talk) 19:26, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
That would be a primary source from a well-respected University. I would say it is reliable, but not verifiable. We should have something that backs it up. — BQZip01 — talk 16:39, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
To clarify, the assertion is on the home page of the Maine University System, to which directs. It's not the statement of the subject school. JohnInDC (talk) 11:23, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

On a related topic, I think the problem with the term "flagship" is that it isn't consistently defined between states (countries too?). Therefore, I feel applying a blanket "we should/shouldn't use the term 'flagship' with Universities" is inappropriate. I'm from Texas and we have two flagship Universities (designated by the state, not the schools): Texas A&M and that overglorified junior college in Austin (I'm just teasing...all part of a friendly rivalry). It has more to do with the funding and priorities of the state than anything [16]. I don't know how other states do it, but for Texas universities, it's pretty well-defined. I feel we should probably stick to just what each state calls their schools. — BQZip01 — talk 16:39, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

As another Texan affiliated with the University of Houston, I'd have to disagree with you. The term "flagship" is also very much applicable to the state systems. There's a large difference in the type of university that the University of Houston is versus another University of Houston System university such as the University of Houston–Victoria. That difference is denoted by the term flagship by university administration just as well. Brianreading (talk) 03:29, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

As someone not in the US, this discussion seems to be based on a specific US usage of the word flagship in relation to places of higher education, where in some cases it appears to relate to a designation by some higher authority (state, educational authority etc) that the institution in question has some kind of priority in terms of funding, standards or some similar. In the UK, the government designates certain local authorities or departments thereof, educational institutions or parts thereof, or public health facilites as "Beacons" or "having Beacon status", which is very specific. Other establishments are free to describe themselves as "beacons", but they do not have this legislative accreditation.

Surely the issue here is whether we are describing an accreditation by a higher authority, a funding authority, and awards authority or similar, or whether the situation is merely that The University of Sales has said that the Acme College of Cold Calling is it's flagship college, which is no different to saying "its primary college" or "its leading college". The words all have the same meaning, or lack of meaning. So an article should say "The Minister for Sales has awarded Flagship status to ACCC" at the top, or in the body it may say "UoS describes ACCC as its flagship college".Elen of the Roads (talk) 14:28, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

Or in example one say "ACCC is a Flagship college" with footnoted verification. Example two should never say "ACCC is a Flagship college", because it isn't, it's just UoS's flagship college.Elen of the Roads (talk) 14:31, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, it's both a (semi-) formal designation and a colloquial label. It also only applies in the case of state-chartered and funded colleges and universities (as I think the definition makes clear), which takes the University of Sales and Acme College problem out of the equation. The "designation" cases are easy, because pretty much by definition the only entities with authority to bestow the label are state agencies of one or another type. Colloquial usage is trickier (even where no one is really likely to disagree), and the simplest solution there is probably to phrase the statement a little differently ("X school is widely regarded as the flagship . . . ") with sources. JohnInDC (talk) 14:55, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
If it can be used as a formal or semi formal designation, then that should be the one that is acceptable. The rest is "advertising puff" to use a marvellous old legal term, unless there's good evidence that it is widely regarded as 'a flagship' by its peers.Elen of the Roads (talk) 15:10, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
But it may *not* be "puff". That's the problem. It may be that a school is, in fact, generally regarded as the 'flagship' of a system even though it has never been designated as such. For example. While the State of Michigan appears to think it has three, maybe four "flagship" schools in the state, within the narrower subset of the University of Michigan system, the campus at Ann Arbor is the flagship. The other campuses are smaller, younger and receive substantially less funding. If an article about the University of Michigan described the Ann Arbor campus as "the flagship campus" it would be a simple, uncontroversial, un-puffed statement of an obvious truth. Of course you'd like to see that sourced - because we source everything here - but the fact that it was never "designated" as such is meaningless to the statement. It is just as true either way.
Of course now that I re-read your comment, you seem to be saying the same thing. "Use the formal or semi-formal designation unless the school is widely regarded by peers as a flagship". That's pretty much what I mean. JohnInDC (talk) 15:42, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Yup, I think we got to the same page. Elen of the Roads (talk) 15:47, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
If the article on the University of Maine said something like "X school is widely regarded as the flagship . . . " with reliable sources (as proposed above), that would be acceptable prose attribution. It does not. It merely asserts the school "IS the flagship" university. If that article was consistent with this discussion, the matter would be settled. Unfortunately, proponents of the school resist such a simple and easy solution to this problem, thereby pushing thier own POV. Mervyn Emrys (talk) 00:19, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
You really have to love the way that citations have been provided showing UMaine calling itself the flagship, the University of Maine System referring to UMaine as its flagship, and the State of Maine referring to UMaine as the state's flagship university, but we're the ones pushing a POV. :-) --SarekOfVulcan (talk) 02:01, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
Merely providing a reference to an involved party does not guarantee NPOV. It is the manner in which the issue is addressed that provided NPOV, and this article falls short, landing squarely in the realm of mere puffery. It doesn't have to be that way, but that appears to by the preference of some. Well, if puffery is what you want, puffery is what you have. There is is, for all the world to see. Enjoy. Mervyn Emrys (talk) 21:52, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

List of Flagship Universities[edit]

Below I have listed the respective flagship universities of each state. The source is College Board and an annual survey of colleges. College board has been putting out this type list comparing flagship prices for many years now, and it just got updated for the 16-17 year.

I will also include some other sources like from the US Department of Education - ERIC which lists each state flagship, recognized by the United States Government-

And from the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board (government report) -

List below copied from

University of Alaska Fairbanks AK
University of Alabama AL
University of Arkansas AR
University of Arizona AZ
University of California: Berkeley CA
University of Colorado at Boulder CO
University of Connecticut CT
University of Delaware DE
University of Florida FL
University of Georgia GA
University of Hawaii at Manoa HI
University of Iowa IA
University of Idaho ID
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign IL
Indiana University Bloomington IN
University of Kansas KS
University of Kentucky KY
Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College LA
University of Massachusetts Amherst MA
University of Maryland: College Park MD
University of Maine ME
University of Michigan MI
University of Minnesota: Twin Cities MN
University of Missouri: Columbia MO
University of Mississippi MS
University of Montana MT
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill NC
University of North Dakota ND
University of Nebraska - Lincoln NE
University of New Hampshire NH
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey: New Brunswick/Piscataway Campus NJ
University of New Mexico NM
University of Nevada: Reno NV
State University of New York at Buffalo NY
Ohio State University: Columbus Campus OH
University of Oklahoma OK
University of Oregon OR
Penn State University Park PA
University of Rhode Island RI
University of South Carolina SC
University of South Dakota SD
University of Tennessee: Knoxville TN
University of Texas at Austin TX
University of Utah UT
University of Virginia VA
University of Vermont VT
University of Washington WA
University of Wisconsin-Madison WI
West Virginia University WV
University of Wyoming WY

AlaskanNativeRU (talk) 23:53, 10 February 2017 (UTC)

Flagship university designation criteria[edit]

It appears a university can be designated a Wikipedia flagship university provided any of the following conditions are met:

  • Included in a list of published flagship universities - College Board, USA Today, Princeton Review, S&P, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, etc.
  • Self-identification as a flagship university by the university
  • Federal or state designation as a flagship university
  • Determined effort by an alumnus usually sourcing a published list

Not being included in the College Board list of 50 flagship universities does not preclude being designated as a Wikipedia flagship university. For instance, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation lists 92 universities including three in Pennsylvania - Penn State, Pitt and Temple. While Temple may be a surprise to the good folks in Pennsylvania (and probably to more than few Temple alums!), it does meet one of the criteria. Sandcherry (talk) 01:51, 2 January 2018 (UTC)