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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Tough economic times have hurt Harvard University's public standing in the media over the past nine months, while schools perceived as a safer educational investment have benefited, a research firm said.
Global Language Monitor, which ranks colleges and universities based on their appearances in print and other media, said the venerable Ivy League institution has fallen from first to third behind University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The firm said it recorded a 20 percent decline in media representations of Harvard, America's richest university by endowment, which has allowed some technical schools and state-run "public Ivies" to improve their standing.
"Sometimes events do impact your name and our analysis seems to be that since Harvard fell that much, it appears tied to the economic restructuring," said Paul Payack, president and chief word analyst at the Global Language Monitor. "It also appears to be that it hit Harvard harder than other universities because of the news stemming from it."
Among the major news on Harvard in recent months has been the tumbling value of its endowment. The university, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said its endowment fell 27.3 percent, or $11 billion, to $26 billion in the year ending on June 30.
Harvard's investment decline, the biggest in four decades, forced the 373-year-old school to lay off staff and interrupt a prominent campus expansion. The university was not alone in falling on hard economic times.
Yale, the country's second-richest University, said its endowment shrank 30 percent to $16 billion in the fiscal year that ended on June 30. The New Haven, Connecticut-based school is now facing deficits and cost-cutting measures. In the rankings, it fell to 11th from ninth.
Global Language Monitor ranks the top 200 colleges and universities according to their appearances in the global print and electronic media, the Internet, blogs and social media.
This is its third published rankings. Harvard was No. 1 in both previous surveys. The results are based on three media snapshots taken in December, June and this month.
Elsewhere in the rankings, New York's Columbia University fell to fourth place from second and the University of Chicago fell to fifth from third.
The University of California-Berkeley was among the "public Ivies" making a jump, rising to sixth from 10th, and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill vaulted to ninth from 17th.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte