Col­lege rank­ings: Yale tied for 3rd na­tion­ally; UConn, Fair­field U. slip

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Linda Con­ner Lam­beck

It was a short reign at the top for Fair­field Uni­ver­sity.

A year af­ter look­ing down on the rest of re­gional col­leges in the north on the U.S. News and World Re­port, the Je­suit uni­ver­sity is back in third place, be­hind Prov­i­dence Col­lege and Bent­ley Uni­ver­sity.

The pub­li­ca­tions’ an­nual rank­ings also puts Yale Uni­ver­sity into a tie for third place among na­tional uni­ver­si­ties and took the Uni­ver­sity of Con­necti­cut down a cou­ple of pegs on the list of top public col­leges. In 2017, it was 18th. On the 2020 list, out Mon­day, UConn ranks 24th.

Mean­while, three lo­cal uni­ver­si­ties, Sa­cred Heart of Fair­field, the Uni­ver­sity of Bridge­port and Quin­nip­iac Uni­ver­sity of Ham­den, are nowhere to be found on the re­gional north list where Sa­cred Heart and Quin­nip­iac had been steadily climb­ing up the rank­ings. All three have moved to the na­tional list.

Prince­ton and Har­vard are No. 1 and No. 2 re­spec­tively on the na­tional list and Yale shares third place with Columbia and MIT.

Whereas Quin­nip­iac last year, ranked 13th on the north re­gional list, it is now 153 on the na­tional list. Sa­cred Heart, which was 35 last year in the north re­gion, de­buts on the na­tional list at 218.

Ac­cord­ing to the U.S. News web­site, schools in the Na­tional Uni­ver­si­ties cat­e­gory of­fer a full range of un­der­grad­u­ate ma­jors, mas­ters and doc­toral pro­grams and em­pha­size fac­ulty re­search or award pro­fes­sional prac­tice doc­tor­ates.

In De­cem­ber 2018, the Carnegie Com­mis­sion on Higher Ed­u­ca­tion

up­dated the Ba­sic Clas­si­fi­ca­tion used for Best Col­leges. As a re­sult, about 13 per­cent of ranked schools moved into dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories com­pared with last year, a U.S. News of­fi­cial said.

Sa­cred Heart of­fi­cials say the shift puts them on the most pres­ti­gious list.

“We are ex­cited by the chal­lenges of be­ing in­cluded in this new com­pany of na­tional uni­ver­si­ties,” said Sa­cred Heart Pres­i­dent John J. Petillo. “We are pleased that U.S. News took no­tice of what we are do­ing and pro­moted us to a na­tional clas­si­fi­ca­tion. This recog­ni­tion is a tes­ta­ment to the ed­u­ca­tional ex­cel­lence and suc­cess­ful out­comes we pro­vide to our stu­dents through our rig­or­ous and de­mand­ing cur­ric­ula.”

Among other uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges in the state, the Uni­ver­sity of New Haven is now 66th in the re­gional north.

Fair­field

The third place rank­ing among re­gional uni­ver­si­ties in the north for Fair­field comes thanks to a 90 per­cent re­ten­tion rate, high grad­u­a­tion rate and a rise in SAT scores for the in­com­ing class, uni­ver­sity of­fi­cials say.

Fair­field is not on the na­tional list by virtue of the num­ber of doc­toral pro­grams it of­fers. That could change soon.

Schools in­cluded in the Re­gional Uni­ver­si­ties rank­ing of­fer a full range of un­der­grad­u­ate pro­grams and pro­vide grad­u­ate ed­u­ca­tion at the master’s level and are placed in four geo­graph­i­cal groups: North, South, Mid­west and West.

“For us, given our over­all strategic di­rec­tion mov­ing more na­tional, as we be­gin to launch more on­line grad­u­ate pro­grams, I think the na­tional rank­ing is a pos­i­tive,” said Jenn An­der­son, a uni­ver­sity spokeswoma­n.

Vil­lanova Uni­ver­sity, which Fair­field con­sid­ers a peer in­sti­tu­tion, re­cently shifted to the na­tional cat­e­gory.

Fair­field jumped to num­ber one of U.S. News’ Best Un­der­grad­u­ate Teach­ing list and sec­ond on the Most In­no­va­tive School. It also did well in grad­u­at­ing stu­dents eligible for Pell grants at the same rate as other stu­dents. It re­mains flat in the sub­jec­tive peer rat­ing which counts for 20 per­cent of the over­all score an in­sti­tu­tion re­ceives.

Out­comes are the mostly highly weighted rank­ing fac­tor, con­tribut­ing 35 per­cent of a school’s over­all score.

Al­though the mar­ket seems to be flooded with var­i­ous col­lege rank­ings these days, An­der­son said U.S. News is still con­sid­ered a strong one.

“I think it is one of the fac­tors par­ents and stu­dents look at,” An­der­son said.

UConn slips too

At UConn, of­fi­cials say a change in the way the schools’ fi­nan­cial re­sources are cal­cu­lated al­lowed some com­peti­tors to “leapfrog” ahead of Con­necti­cut’s flag­ship uni­ver­sity in the rank­ings.

Among public col­leges na­tion­ally, the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Los An­ge­les main­tains the No. 1 spot.

All told, the data re­leased Mon­day paint UConn as an aca­dem­i­cally strong uni­ver­sity that con­sis­tently at­tracts top tal­ent, re­tains and grad­u­ates those stu­dents in high num­bers and is well re­garded by guid­ance coun­selors and in higher ed­u­ca­tion on the na­tional stage, ac­cord­ing to uni­ver­sity of­fi­cials in a re­leased state­ment.

UConn stayed steady or im­proved in all mea­sures of in­sti­tu­tional qual­ity this year in the rank­ings, in­clud­ing student re­ten­tion and se­lec­tiv­ity, grad­u­a­tion rates, aca­demic rep­u­ta­tion and fac­ulty re­sources, they added.

“UConn is among the top 25 best public re­search uni­ver­si­ties in the na­tion, and we are very proud of that,” UConn Pres­i­dent Thomas C. Kat­souleas said. “Rank­ings are very im­por­tant, but our strat­egy at UConn is not to chase this or any rank­ing. Rather, we are go­ing to pur­sue what we value, build­ing the strength of the in­sti­tu­tion, re­cruit­ing tal­ented stu­dents and fac­ulty, en­gag­ing our alumni and grow­ing re­search, fully ex­pect­ing the rank­ings to follow us.”

While UConn re­mains strong in fresh­man re­ten­tion rates, with 93 per­cent of stu­dents re­turn­ing af­ter their first year, and con­tin­ued strong av­er­age SAT scores of in­com­ing fresh­men, this year’s rank­ings also show other in­sti­tu­tions step­ping up their game.

UConn might have re­tained its hold at 22 if Florida State and Uni­ver­sity of Pitts­burgh had not made enough gains to over­take them in the rank­ings, of­fi­cials said. UConn was also hurt by the mea­sure of alumni who do­nate to the in­sti­tu­tion. That counts for 5 per­cent of the rank­ing. Just un­der 9 per­cent of liv­ing alumni do­nated in the two­year span that the rank­ing con­sid­ers, con­tin­u­ing a de­cline in re­cent years.

“That is some­thing we have con­trol over and we fully ex­pect to turn it around,” said Kat­souleas.

While fewer alumni have given to UConn, UConn is rais­ing higher dol­lar amounts. The UConn Foun­da­tion re­cently re­ported it raised $71 mil­lion in fis­cal year 2019.

Uni­ver­sity of Bridge­port

UB’s move to the na­tional list this year puts it in the un­ranked third tier, some­where be­tween 293 and 381. It also was rec­og­nized as the 39th most eth­ni­cally di­verse na­tional uni­ver­sity, and the 119th best na­tional uni­ver­sity for top performers on so­cial mo­bil­ity, a new U.S. News cat­e­gory this year. It means UB en­rolls and grad­u­ates a large num­ber of dis­ad­van­taged stu­dents who are awarded fed­eral Pell Grants.

The Bridge­port uni­ver­sity also ranked among the top 206 na­tional uni­ver­si­ties for un­der­grad­u­ate en­gi­neer­ing pro­grams.

“The U.S. News rank­ings un­der­score the vast ar­ray of op­por­tu­ni­ties that are avail­able to our stu­dents from di­verse back­grounds,” said UB Pres­i­dent Laura Skan­dera Tromb­ley.

lclam­[email protected]­post.com; twit­ter/lclam­beck

Peter Hviz­dak / Hearst Con­necti­cut Media

Yale Uni­ver­sity up­per­class­men wel­come fresh­men to cam­pus Aug. 23 as they be­gin their fall se­mes­ter.

Hearst Con­necti­cut Media file photo

The Yale Uni­ver­sity cam­pus.

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