Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

University Looks to Improve Academic Rankings

University Looks to Improve Academic Rankings

By Dave Heaton Hoya Staff Writer

Since University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., returned to lead Georgetown a decade ago, the university has emphasized the academic spirit of the school rather than focus on the construction of new buildings.

With the 10-year plan, this ideological bend will be shifting in the opposite direction. The construction of new buildings, including athletic facilities, residence halls, academic buildings and administrative space, will cause the aesthetics of the campus to change. However, the plan, along with the Third Century Campaign to increase the size of the endowment, will also change the academic nature of school.

The principle measure of the academic standard of colleges and universities across the country, U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings, has for the last 13 years ranked Georgetown among its prestigious top 25 national universities. In the most recent issue, Georgetown held the 23rd spot.

The 10-year plan and the Third Century Campaign appear to have been specifically designed to bolster those ratings and to improve the image of Georgetown in the eyes of the academic community at large. Since O’Donovan came to Georgetown, the size of the faculty has increased by 32 percent, even though Georgetown’s overall faculty-resource rating stood at only 56th in 1999, according to the statistics provided to U.S. News. The faculty resource rating includes such standards as class sizes, percent of full-time professors and faculty/student ratio.

Another area in which Georgetown has traditionally lagged behind other first-tier schools has been alumni giving. The Third Century Campaign was designed to specifically address that issue. In 1999, the rankings showed Georgetown to have a 29 percent giving rate over the previous year. Since that time, the giving rate has risen to a current level of 33 percent, which would give Georgetown a statistical tie with Washington University in St. Louis for the 18th highest percentage of alumni making donations.

In addition to improving the school itself, the 10-year plan is also designed to improve the view of Georgetown University in the eyes of the academic community. The annual U.S. News survey to school officials at top schools found that Georgetown had an academic reputation among its peers of 3.9 out of a possible 5.0. Only two other schools in the top 25 rankings had a score below 4.0.

In order to accomplish that goal, the school spent $4.5 million on a temporary home for the McDonough Graduate School of Business in the Car Barn building on Prospect Street, in an effort to keep pace with other top schools, according to Director of Operations for MSB Virginia Flavin. A similar stance has been taken with the construction of the new science center to replace the aging Reiss Science Building and with thousands of other square feet of academic and administrative spaces in the 10-year plan.

Traditionally, university officials have downplayed the importance of the U.S. News rankings. According to Assistant Director for Public Affairs Amy DeMaria, “You can manipulate these rankings however you want. It’s all how you score different factors,” she said.

Nevertheless, the university does consistently emphasize the importance of rankings. In the Kober-Cogan building, banners are hung boasting of the rankings of the medical center. For several weeks at the beginning of this academic year, the front page of the university Web site ran a headline declaring that Georgetown was ranked 23rd by U.S. News, despite the fact that this represented a two-spot decline in the rankings over the previous year. And in an online biography of O’Donovan, the university even brags that the school has been ranked in the top 25 every year since O’Donovan came to Georgetown.

As the university continues with the 10-year plan and the Third Century Campaign, the ultimate goal is an improved Georgetown. With more money and space on campus, the school will benefit from increased flexibility in all realms of university life. Though neither will be the final solution towards solving all of Georgetown’s woes, the efforts of the Third Century Campaign and the 10-year plan could ultimately create a better university.

Whether those changes will manifest themselves in the U.S. News rankings or in the perception of the school in the greater academic community remains to be seen.

Donate to The Hoya

Your donation will support the student journalists of Georgetown University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hoya