The purpose of this paper was to consider how faculty members, a group core to the higher education field, construct rankings as a valuable system. Drawing from post-structuralism and post-modernism and using critical discourse analysis, we argue that faculty members in our study constructed rankings as a way to organize the higher education field. Faculty comments on rankings and striving suggested that excellence or quality could be achieved, measured, replicated, and then made into a competition. Yet, a few faculty members issued critiques about the rankings and articulated serious questions about the fairness of the rankings. Overall, we argue that when we, faculty, as actors in the field of higher education, power up rankings and striving as normative systems, as games that we must play, we marginalize multiple instances of excellence as they unfold across the diverse higher education field. Implications towards praxis are discussed.



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