Located in the heart of University City, bisected
by Market Street and teeming with students, Drexel University often wins first place.
It was ranked number one for athletic gender equity by U.S. News and World Report. It is home to the nation’s largest private medical school and the first cooperative educational program for nursing students. It became the first major university to go fully wireless in 2000. And, according to a recent Princeton Review survey, it is also the ugliest college in the country.
Placing Drexel at the top of a list entitled “Campus
is tiny, unsightly or both,” the survey features 62 rankings lists across eight categories. The results were based on feedback from more than 115,000 students across the nation, including 1,200 Drexel students.
Philip Terranova, Vice President of University Relations at Drexel, dismissed the negative rating, saying that the findings of Drexel’s own student survey “don’t match” with The Princeton Review.
“We put no stock in that brand of whimsical ranking,” Terranova said, adding that there were no legitimate student complaints. “Drexel has invested more than $300 million in the past decade into our campus.”
Students milling about Drexel’s campus were unsurprised by the survey’s results.
“I partially agree with it,” said junior tourism and hospitality management major Nicole Boral. “It is pretty ugly in some places.”
Senior information system major Neha Jyotishi agreed. “I do believe in the rating,” she said. “Personally, I would like to see more greenery around campus; though I do understand that we have a space crunch and that we have to fit everything in.”Other students complained about the campus’ small size.
“It’s only two blocks of buildings and that’s the whole campus,” said junior biomedical engineering major Victoria Ferrari, adding that she believed the campus was unattractive, but that it was not the ugliest in the nation.
Terranova said that several “world-class architects” have designed campus buildings. They include Philip Johnson, Michael Graves and I.M. Pei, who designed the Louvre Museum
pyramids in Paris.
Despite Terranova’s insistence on the high quality of Drexel’s architecture, Boral remained skeptical. “They’re building this new dorm that’s ugly,” she said. “It’s this modern, ugly building that will definitely be out of style in a few years. In some ways, the quality of the architecture is inferior.”
Although most students who were interviewed echoed The Princeton Review’s rating, junior interior design major Akshita Sivakumar strongly disagreed.
“Unless you’re walking blindfolded, there’s so much beauty around,” she said, adding that many students feel the same way. “The location of the campus itself is in such an out-of-the-world place. Philadelphia is such a beautiful city and I think Drexel is making the best use of the space that it’s gotten, especially with the new construction work that’s going on.”
The new construction is part of Drexel’s effort to create a more aesthetically pleasing campus. Part of this effort includes the addition of water fountains and the ongoing refurbishment of the quad, a popular student hangout located on 33rd Street between Market and Chestnut Streets.
“When you walk around campus, you can see that they’re trying to change it a little bit,” said Boral, who also believes that Drexel is being overshadowed by nearby University of Pennsylvania’s campus.
“It’s because we sit right next to Penn, and that’s basically like any college being next to Princeton. They’ve got the nice architecture and the gargoyles and it makes you feel like you’re in England,” Boral said. “And then there’s Drexel with all it’s modern [buildings].
Drexel also faired poorly in several other categories. It was ranked 14th on the “Professors Get Low Marks” list, seventh on the “Long lines and Red Tape” list and 11th on the “Least Happy Students” list.
“Long lines and Red Tape” was roundly chorused as an accurate ranking among students.
“I think that’s the worst thing about Drexel,” Boral said. “Whenever you try and call anyone, you’re always put through to five or six people before you can actually talk to the person you need to talk to, which is really annoying because it’s a waste of time.”
Most Temple students who were interviewed said they believed that Temple’s campus was aesthetically superior to Drexel’s.
“The architecture of the buildings [at Drexel] is much more drastic. Temple’s a lot prettier,” said freshman biology major Stephen Ciment. “But if you’re going there and you like that school for whatever reason, I don’t really think that how the buildings look should really come into play.”
His sister, junior secondary education major Sydnie Ciment, noted the difference in campus atmosphere between the two schools. “I know Drexel’s in the city and the hustle and bustle,” she said. “Temple’s more secluded; but Drexel definitely didn’t deserve to be ranked worst in the nation.”
Only ranked as the eighth most diverse school in the nation, Temple received no other mention in the survey. “I don’t agree with that at all,” Sydnie said. “Who are the people that are judging these schools? Are these Penn and Drexel graduates?”
The Princeton Review did not respond to a request to comment.
Venuri Siriwardane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org