Provost Reports on U.S. News Ranking, Biennial Budget

Posted: November 27, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

George Mason could move from the third to the second tier of U.S. News & World Report‘s college rankings at a cost of $10.5 million, Provost Peter Stearns told a faculty forum yesterday.

That conclusion came from a committee that met several times over the past few months to examine what the university needs to do to move up in the influential annual rankings.

While cautioning not to take the U.S. News ranking too seriously, Stearns outlined a plan that would impact the major categories the magazine uses in its ranking.

Under the committee’s proposal, the faculty resources category would be boosted by allocating an estimated $7 million to hire 100 new instructional faculty with terminal degrees. Stearns pointed out that this would in turn positively affect up to five sub-categories in the ranking.

The additional $3.5 million in the proposal would go to new undergraduate scholarships; public relations and marketing efforts to recruit top students and influence peer evaluators; and hiring more advisors to improve student retention.

Currently, $5.7 million in the base budget is targeted to the areas that would impact the rankings, Stearns said.

Stearns said the university would begin reporting high school class ranks of entering freshmen, which would boost the rankings. Efforts are under way to improve graduation and retention rates, he said, and encouraging alumni giving would also enhance the university’s score.

Stearns also outlined the university’s nearly $45 million biennial budget request, which includes $5.4 million devoted to specific “spires of excellence;” $25 million to achieve base budget adequacy; and $14.5 million for enrollment growth.

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