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University Climbs Ladder in Local Reputation Survey

BU comes in sixth, outranking a tumbling Harvard

Peter A. Morrissey, Morrissey & Company CEO and a COM associate professor, suspects that BU’s rise to sixth place is a vote of confidence in the University's new leadership.

Boston University was ranked sixth, outpacing seventh-place Harvard, in a recent survey that asked 200 local business leaders to numerically rate the overall reputations of 74 Boston-area companies. The five corporations that came in ahead of BU are, in order of rating: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dunkin’ Donuts, Children’s Hospital, Boston College, and Tufts University.

The annual Massachusetts Corporate Reputation Survey, which was launched four years ago, asks business leaders to rate businesses, universities, and hospitals on reputation, products and services, place to work, degree of social responsibility, ethics, and corporate governance and financial stability. It is conducted by the independent research company Opinion Dynamics and is commissioned by Morrissey & Company, a public relations firm whose president and CEO, Peter A. Morrissey, is an associate professor at BU’s College of Communication.

“What we really learn with this survey is what these corporations stand for,” says Morrissey. “We get an idea of what they value and what their ethics are. Reputation is about more than advertising and getting people’s attention. It’s about delivering what you promised, being a good neighbor, and being a good place to work.”

Morrissey says he noted with interest that this year Harvard fell from the number-one position, which it held for three years, to number seven, a drop he attributes to the strife that forced the resignation of former Harvard President Lawrence Summers. He also points out that Boston University has risen in the last four years from 10th place to 6th, an improvement he interprets as a vote of confidence in the University’s new leadership.
This year’s big surprise, Morrissey says, was the number-two ranking of Dunkin’ Donuts, which had not even been included in earlier surveys, and was the only for-profit corporation in the top-10 listing. 

“Generally,” says Morrissey, “what you see in the winners is a concentration of what we in the Boston area do well: education and health care. The winners are all world-class institutions, whether you’re talking about Harvard or Boston University or Children’s Hospital. In the Boston area, you see incredible strength in the not-for-profits.”

The complete 2006 Massachusetts Corporate Reputation Survey can be downloaded here.

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.