Study Focuses on Improving Ranking, Academic Reputation

Posted: January 12, 2000 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Carrie Secondo

Results of a study conducted by Physics and Astronomy professor Robert Ehrlich on how to improve George Mason’s national ranking and its academic reputation are now available online.

Since 1985, U.S. News and World Report has been ranking colleges and universities based on financial resources, academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, student selectivity, faculty resources, and alumni giving. Last year, the report placed George Mason in the third of four tiers for the national university category. The annual report prompted Ehrlich to investigate how George Mason could improve its ranking and increase academic reputation overall.

From the study, Ehrlich produced a report that outlines eight recommendations.

  • Make an increased effort to help individual academic departments and faculty members bring their interesting work to a wider audience.

  • Encourage, reward, and recognize faculty members who have brought good attention to the university.

  • Strongly encourage academic departments to establish links with high school and community college faculty members, and encourage individual faculty members to visit high school classes.

  • Increase the amount of merit aid for academically superior students to bring us to a par with our closest competitors.

  • Consider offering a location on campus or on other university-owned land for the new Science Technology Center for Northern Virginia.

  • Promote programs, rather than colleges, in a manner that allows all individual programs equal possibility of exposure.

  • Make the university website simple for users to link to specific academic programs and departments, and have the website thoroughly reviewed by an outside expert who is familiar with the best practices used around the country.

  • Consider carefully the pros and cons of disaggregating several Ph.D. programs, so as to put the university in the new highest Carnegie classification, which is the classification used to place universities in the national category. (The basis for the Carnegie classifications is changing in 2000, which may put George Mason back in the “less elite” regional university category.)

Also available online is an interactive spreadsheet that shows users how changing different variables affects our U.S. News rank.

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