The news that the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s ranking for research activity dropped from fourth to sixth in the nation is just jaw-dropping.

There are a lot of schools that would give a lot to be ranked 6th, but this just strikes us as terrible news and dangerous to boot.

Perhaps this is a statistical blip. Maybe UW moves up again next year. We don’t want to over-react. But we’re worried.

For a century or more, UW has been recognized as one of the very finest research universities in the world and our ranking was unchallenged. It just feels uncomfortably coincidental that UW’s dip in the rankings would coincide with a significant period of decline in state support of the university and a growing antipathy to its importance as an economic engine for this state.

This may or may not be a sign of that neglect. But if it is we better fix things before we slide further.