The disparity between Temple’s overall ranking and the rankings of individual programs reflect the university’s commitment toward quality faculty and providing affordable education to motivated students, administrators said.
In the latest U.S. News and World Report college rankings, Temple ranked No. 125 among national universities, out of 1,600 ranked schools, and No. 60 among public universities, out of 115.
Several graduate schools within the university also placed within the Top 60 in their respective categories, including Fox School of Business, which ranked No. 52, Beasley School of Law at No. 58, the School of Medicine, which ranked No. 47 in research, the College of Education, which was ranked No. 53 and Tyler School of Art, which was ranked No. 13 among fine arts programs.
Twelve fields of study were ranked within the Top 20 nationally. In Beasley, legal writing ranked ninth, part-time law ranked seventh, and trial advocacy ranked second. At Fox, insurance was ranked sixth and international business ranked ninth. Criminology in the College of Liberal Arts ranked No. 11. In Tyler, ceramics ranked No. 13, painting and drawing ranked No. 10, photography No. 20, printmaking No. 10 and sculpture No. 9.
The data that goes into ranking includes “assessment by administrators at peer institutions, retention of students, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, and…high school counselor ratings of colleges and graduation rate performance,” according to U.S. News and World Report.
“[U.S. News and World Report] is conducted in a way that they base almost 50 percent of the indicators [on] student characteristics, so in a way it reflects [on our] students…but also partly our admissions process and our admissions goals,” Interim Provost Hai-Lung Dai said.
While the rankings of the institution as a whole include aspects such as alumni giving, an area which Temple ranks very low, graduate school rankings are focused more on faculty and students.
“[Fox School of Business] has a higher ranking, so I think that made a huge impact on my decision,” Ayten Huseyin, a freshman international business major, said.
“Temple has a historical mission for access to excellence,” Dai said. “We want to provide education opportunities to whoever wants to learn. As long as you have the will, you want to learn, we will take you in, that’s the mission of our founder Russell Conwell.”
Dai also said that as a state-related institution, Temple has a “mandate to educate the populous of the state of Pennsylvania.”
“We could increase tuition by 20 percent, and then reduce the student intake by 20 percent, then we would immediately get our ranking up,” Dai said. “That we would not do.”
Without including Temple Japan, Temple had 37,257 students in 2011, according to that year’s student profile. Of that, 27,572 were Pennsylvania residents.
In the same profile, the freshman class had an average grade point average of 3.39 and a combined SAT average of 1,114 on a 1,600 scale.
Last year, the university accepted 62.8 percent of applicants, said William Black, senior vice provost of enrollment management. He said the university plans on admitting roughly the same number of students in coming years.
The university’s primary quality in identifying incoming students is high school GPAs, which the admissions office weights on a standard scale, giving more weight to AP and honors classes, Black said.
Using a 100-point scale, the admissions office gives 50 points to a student’s GPA and class rank, 40 points to their SAT/ACT scores and 10 points to subjective categories such as a personal essay and letters of recommendation. Students must receive a minimum score of 48 to be initially accepted, although lower scores are eligible to be placed on the waiting list, Black said.
In academics, Dai said that the university does track its rankings, but that it’s not a primary focus when creating curriculum or allocating funds.
“Rankings certainly matter,” Dai said. “We want the students [to] feel that when they graduate [they] are graduating from a highly ranked university.”
Dai gave the example of graduation rates as one of the primary areas that the university is working to improve.
The university’s six-year graduation rate of 67 percent is nine points higher than the 58 percent national rate reported by the National Center for Education Statistics.
Though higher graduation rates could lead to higher rankings, Dai said the university strives to do so in a way that “maintains academic rigor” for students.
Because so many of the university’s programs are at various stages of development, the university has to take different approaches to building and maintaining the quality of academics.
At the College of Science and Technology, new faculty have been hired to replace those who have retired and plans to hire more tenured faculty are in place.
In highly ranked programs such as clinical psychology, ranked No. 26, Dai said one of the problems the university faces is tenured faculty being sought out and hired by other institutions.
In addition to hiring new faculty, Dai said that the development of faculty research and an increase in publishing scholarly works are important steps.
“That will certainly increase our rankings in these different fields, colleges, as well as the university as a whole as a research university,” Dai said.
The university’s announcement this summer of an $8 million increase in financial aid for the current academic year, followed by a $100 million fundraising campaign toward financial aid, could also affect the rankings.
A change in culture at the university, which includes improved infrastructure, a larger resident student population and the Temple Made campaign are all areas that university officials said will bring a larger focus to the school, and possibly, a rise in rankings.
Behind increased graduation rates, increased student SAT scores were the No. 2 reason Dai named for a rise in university rankings. Dai credited the rise in SAT scores and overall competitiveness to prospective students becoming more attracted to the university.
“We have seen a steady increase in the quality of the students applying and being admitted to the university,” Black said. “The reputation of the institution, rankings non-withstanding, has been growing, particularly in what we consider our primary market.”
Admissions has seen a rise in the number of applicants at the university, with last year’s applying class being the largest in school history, which allows the university to be more competitive in its selection process, Black said.
“I think a selective admissions process is the only way a school can propel itself ahead of other schools,” David Reilly, a freshman math major, said.
Exemplified by the recent start of the Temple Made campaign, Black said that the ways in which admissions has recruited students has changed in the last four years.
“We didn’t really used to talk much about the quality of the academics at the university in our material,” Black said. “That changed.”
John Moritz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU.