Fordham Moves in Rankings


College rankings are available online at the Wall Street Journal/Time Higher Education website. (Courtesy of Kevin Stolotenborg)

By Eliot Schiaparelli

College rankings from both The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education and US News and World Report came out last week. Fordham found itself at No. 203 out of 968 schools, in the WSJ rankings and No. 70 out of 312 for US News.

Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university, sent a university-wide message discussing the ranking changes.
“I am writing to report that it has been a mixed week for Fordham in the rankings,” he said.

McShane said that it would take several days to analyze the rankings and come up with an appropriate response, but that he is slated to speak with staff on Wednesday, Sept. 12.

McShane said US News and World Report deemphasized selectivity in their ranking, bolstering public institutions as a result. Private institutions like Fordham, Georgetown University and Boston College also fell in ranking.

Programs run out of Gabelli, such as entrepreneurship, finance, international business and marketing all ranked in the top 30 for their respective categories. Marketing came in the highest, taking eighth place.

The metrics used to determine the US News scores were based 35 percent on outcomes with the subcategories social mobility, graduation and retention rates. Faculty resources accounted for 20 percent of the overall score, ivolving faculty salary and class size. Expert opinions which came in the form of peer and high school counselor assessments were also 20 percent. Financial resources and student excellence each counted for 10 percent. Finally alumni giving counted for five percent.

Fordham’s WSJ ranking of 203 was nine spots better than last year, but the university dropped 10 spots in the US News rankings. Unlike WSJ, US News ties universities in their rankings; six universities received a 57 out of 100 putting them in 70th place. These other universities included Stevens Institute of Technology, which is just across the river in Hoboken, New Jersey, and University of Pittsburgh.

The top spots on the US News list were taken by Princeton and Harvard. NYU came in at 30. Georgetown was 22nd and Boston College was 38th.

McShane also pointed out that the University ranked in the top 20 percent of the 968 institutions on the WSJ list.

2018 is only the third year The Wall Street Journal has released rankings, and the methodology has changed slightly each year. These changes in methodology accounted for Fordham’s drop last year of 40 spots. In 2016, it came in 172nd.

To determine ranks, 15 factors were split into four categories: Outcomes, Resources, Engagement and Environment. Factors within these groups ranged from faculty-to-student ratio to value-added to graduate salary.

The categories were also weighted, so outcomes accounted for 40 percent while environment accounted for only 10. Resources and engagement counted for 30 and 20 percent, respectively.

In the Outcomes category, Fordham was ranked 190 with a score of 24.2/40. In Environment, it scored a 5.7/10, which put it in 338th place. For Engagement, it received 15.8/20, or 424th place, and for Resources it came in 328th with a score of 14.8/30.

Ivy League schools filled the top spots on both lists. For the WSJ rankings, Harvard took the top spot. Other Jesuit schools Georgetown and Boston College were ranked at 30 and 67, respectively. In New York City, NYU ranked 27th and St. John’s, a private Catholic school in Queens, ranked only one spot above Fordham at 202.
Bob Howe, Fordham’s assistant vice president for communications said, small changes can have big impacts in a system such as this one.

“Miniscule differences in individual institutions’ scores make for significant differences in rankings,” he said.

Both Howe and McShane pointed to Fordham’s endowment as affecting its ranking. He said the University’s endowment is less than five percent of the average endowment for an Ivy League school. The size of a school’s endowment was ranked as part of the Resources category.

A new feature of this year’s report on The Wall Street Journal’s website allows users to customize their rankings to best fit what they’re looking for in a school. When this feature is used to discount the Resources category, Fordham’s rank improves to place around 150.

In an analysis of their own rankings, David Pettit wrote for The Wall Street Journal that the analysis is driven by the consumer.

“We look at schools the way parents and prospective students do,” he wrote. “We consider the factors most important to them.”