Creator Of U.S. News Rankings Dies At 89

Richard Sandomir:

Mel Elfin, a longtime Washington bureau chief for Newsweek who moved to the rival U.S. News & World Report in 1986 and helped build its college rankings feature into a major educational franchise, died on Saturday in Washington. He was 89. …

For Mr. Elfin, overseeing U.S. News’s college rankings posed a challenge that differed from working at Newsweek, where he covered President Richard M. Nixon’s groundbreaking trip to China and developed a strong stable of reporters during the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal.

Now, at U.S. News, he was dealing with college presidents, educational data and algorithms.

“He was a pivotal figure,” said Bob Morse, the chief data strategist of U.S. News, who worked closely with Mr. Elfin to hone the methodologies behind the rankings. “He embraced the fact that the rankings were needed and that serving consumers was our primary mission.”