We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
In many areas, how many scholars do we need. I'd say we only need less than a dozen literary theorists but we have dozens in dozens of English departments.
Paul Graham had good observations in 2004:
How did things get this way? To answer that we have to go back almost a thousand years. Around 1100, Europe at last began to catch its breath after centuries of chaos, and once they had the luxury of curiosity they rediscovered what we call "the classics." The effect was rather as if we were visited by beings from another solar system. These earlier civilizations were so much more sophisticated that for the next several centuries the main work of European scholars, in almost every field, was to assimilate what they knew.
During this period the study of ancient texts acquired great prestige. It seemed the essence of what scholars did. As European scholarship gained momentum it became less and less important; by 1350 someone who wanted to learn about science could find better teachers than Aristotle in his own era.  But schools change slower than scholarship. In the 19th century the study of ancient texts was still the backbone of the curriculum.
The time was then ripe for the question: if the study of ancient texts is a valid field for scholarship, why not modern texts? The answer, of course, is that the original raison d'etre of classical scholarship was a kind of intellectual archaeology that does not need to be done in the case of contemporary authors. But for obvious reasons no one wanted to give that answer. The archaeological work being mostly done, it implied that those studying the classics were, if not wasting their time, at least working on problems of minor importance.
And so began the study of modern literature. There was a good deal of resistance at first. The first courses in English literature seem to have been offered by the newer colleges, particularly American ones. Dartmouth, the University of Vermont, Amherst, and University College, London taught English literature in the 1820s. But Harvard didn't have a professor of English literature until 1876, and Oxford not till 1885. (Oxford had a chair of Chinese before it had one of English.)
Universities are no longer primarily institutions of higher learning, they are competitive engines of institutional growth and athletic cash flow, with higher learning taking a distant third seat or worse. It's the curse of the modern business feedback model, a product of the best business schools. We've figured out how to measure what works in the consumer economy and turned this paradigm toward the education sector. Success~! Too bad we can't spell paradigm anymore.
The absence of Berkeley from the US News list is perhaps because it is still THE university with the highest number of Nobel Laureates--many of whom are on campus. It is a little known fact that places like Stanford, and Harvard try to ignore.
When folks like Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter decided to open the borders and reduce the number of good jobs for the high school graduate by trying to replace craft and manufacturing with McDonalds, when they did all of that they also decided that ACADEMIA would become the next big employer. All those schools creating more educated people would grow larger so they could provide jobs for those individuals--where else were they going to go? The US would become the world's largest think tank and the kindest because half of those jobs would go to folks from the category of under represented groups. Therefore, you have a large company churning out people with MA degrees with an education that is slightly close to what used to be a Jr.College degree. This will be our downfall. Unless all those educated white straight males who have been denied jobs step forward and start to build more private universities such as Hillsdale--we are done. FYI this might be of interest to this conversation--the University of Washington receives more research money from the Federal government than any other school. More than UCLA medical. More than MIT, more than Cal Poly. Why is that you may ask. Could it be because the UW is owned and operated by Boeing and Microsoft? Corporations with deep ongoing needs for research in order to compete in this world. This is of course not exactly legal, and not exactly illegal.