The past two weeks have been turbulent ones for Case Western Reserve University. From the release of the U.S. News and World Report rankings to the realization that university alumni gave more than ever to the institution, each passing day seemed to bring a reason for school administrators to either grimace or smile.
As Hank Williams would say, there were tears in the beers of many university administrators after they learned Case Western Reserve maintained its position as the nation’s 37th-ranked university in U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Colleges” list. Released last Monday, the U.S. News and World Report ranking represents the most important benchmark for the university, and it is the grading scale on which many key initiatives are scored.
While the Case School of Engineering leaped nine places in its undergraduate ranking, other schools did not fare as well. For instance, the Weatherhead School of Management slid from 31st to 34th in the undergraduate list.
Other disappointing areas included the graduation and retention rankings, which slide from 51st to 59th this year. This important statistic quantifies many of the qualitative issues outlined in the Opinion section of The Observer over the past year. It shows that students value their academic experience at the university, but their overall experience, which includes their time living, working and relaxing at the institution, is not holding up to their standards.
However, there may be a silver lining. As alumni support of the institution continues to increase, the money is beginning to conglomerate for future spending. The university raised $7.5 million more this past fiscal year than the year before, which indicates that resources are being gathered to help remedy many of the issues students are citing as reasons for their unsatisfactory experience.
But money can’t solve all woes. In an effort to ultimately improve the student experience, the Division of Student Affairs is working on its first strategic plan in recent memory, which is causing its departments and organizations to rethink their own structure and make strategic preparations for the future.
September won’t be known as Case Western Reserve’s best month. But it may be known as the month when the rankings ran low as the coffers filled up.