Temple was one of five schools to tie for the No. 121 overall position among the 201 ranked national universities in the 2015 U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges rankings. The ranked institutions are placed into categories based upon the college’s mission and sometimes its location. These colleges are then judged according to up to 16 academic performance indicators. Temple is categorized as a national university.
In the past four years, Temple has moved up 11 spots. This has made Temple one of the nation’s top 30 gainers among all national universities during this period. The initial feelings were bittersweet, though, for those who wanted to see Temple’s ranking improve again this year.
Provost Hai-Lung Dai said he felt “disappointment that we did not move up, but at the same time relief that we did not go down.”
“The bases for this are, of course, that in last many years we’ve set a goal of improving the quality of the university and then as a consequence we like to see the result in the improving of our reputation in ranking,” Dai said.
The annual ranking works off of a two-year turnaround, meaning that this year’s results are based on analysis of data from the 2012-13 academic year. The administration is confident and hopeful for Temple’s future reputation.
“This is a multi-year effort, and finally we are beginning to see the results,” Dai said. “So I am actually anticipating in a couple years we’ll do better and better. Our goal is to get to
the Top 100 in a couple years.”
The areas that Temple made the
most progress in this last ranking were its graduation rates, its academic reputation among high school guidance counselors and its undergraduate business programs. Additionally, Temple was praised for its reputation as being one of the best schools in the nation for veterans.
“By any measure of excellence — from our graduation rates to our facilities, our appeal to prospective students and our research enterprise — we are an institution on the rise,” President Theobald wrote in a press release last week.
Two-thirds of the U.S. News ranking is based on quantitative merit, mostly evaluating undergraduate quality, and one third is based on perception – referred to by Dai as a “beauty contest.” The perception portion comes from surveys and reputation. This process forms a feedback loop, with rankings improving as perception improves and vice versa.
The ranking is also directly influenced by certain financial factors, including financial aid, tuition and the percentage of alumni who donate. Although Temple had a record-breaking amount of money donated or pledged this year, the alumni participation rate remained at seven percent, a low number when compared to other state related institutions.
Initiatives that administrators said they believe will be reflected in future rankings include increased financial aid, the enactment of the Fly in 4 program and Temple’s growing research initiative. Additionally, one of the biggest moves in the last year is improving Temple’s student selectivity measures.
“We see the general upward mobility of the student quality indicators,” Dai said. “Advising the proper path and asking the students to follow is having an effect on graduation rate and retention rate after the first year,” Dai said.
Jared Whalen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org