Fordham Sees Mixed Success in University Rankings

Erica Scalise, Projects Editor

After a series of rankings by Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education and Forbes showed mixed success for Fordham, Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university, said the school’s rankings are not where the university wants to be.

“The effort is complicated by the fact that the rankings don’t all use the same criteria, and some of those criteria are in opposition (for example, selectivity and social mobility),” said McShane.

For the second year in a row, Fordham rose 36 points in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education rankings, ranking 176 in 800 of the 870 institutions that were nationally ranked, but moved downward from 70 to 74 in the U.S. News & World Report (U.S. News).

In Forbes Top Colleges, Fordham rose seven in the ranks, rising from 148 to 141 out of 650 schools and 48th among private national research universities.

McShane cited an action plan by the Retention Task Force to enhance first-to-second year retention rates and graduation rates as one way the university is working toward improving its rankings. McShane also said the university is hiring a communications firm to communicate Fordham’s accomplishments more widely and effectively.

According to McShane, in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings, which measures whose graduates do the best financially, the university came in above the median in every category. Of the 4,600 research universities in the United States, only 20% are ranked by WSJ/THE.

“We are trying to understand some apparent inconsistencies in this ranking in particular: we came in 74th nationally despite being ranked 34th in Best Undergraduate Teaching,” he said.

McShane also said the decline in the U.S. News & World Report could be attributed to changes in methodology, the approximately 100 new institutions entering the National Research Universities category and the university’s endowment size. Fordham’s endowment is less than 5% of the average Ivy League endowment, according to McShane.

According to U.S. News & World Report, high school counselor opinion is no longer considered an expert opinion, and there is a ‘small’ difference in how other factors were calculated in rankings.

In his closing, McShane said the quality of a university cannot be expressed in one number and said he is very proud of the faculty and students.

“All of you know Fordham best, and appreciate the quality of the education we offer. There is no metric for educating students of conscience, competence, and compassion, nor do the numbers speak to our intellectual rigor,” he said.