Case Western Reserve University slips one spot to 38th in annual “U.S. News & World Report” Best Colleges rankings

cwru signDespite gains in several component categories, Case Western Reserve slipped one notch, to 38th, in the annual U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings released today. The dip marked the first time the university’s overall position slipped since the fall of 2007, when it fell from 38th to 41st.

“I am deeply disappointed by our overall ranking this year, especially in light of our community’s extraordinary efforts all across the campus,” President Barbara R. Snyder said. “In that context, I want to make sure to acknowledge all of those whose work did yield significant progress in specific areas.”

Case Western Reserve improved in eight of the magazine’s 17 component areas, including a 12 percentage point gain in admissions selectivity and a 10-point gain in the average SAT score of Case Western Reserve students at the 25th percentile, 1270. The other SAT figure that U.S. News uses is the average score of those at the 75th percentile, which remained unchanged at 1480. For each SAT category, the figures are for students who enrolled in 2013. Finally, the university’s rating among high school counselors increased a tenth of a point over last year, to 4.3 on a five-point scale.

“These results show that Case Western Reserve can achieve significant progress when we come together around a key priority,” Vice President for Enrollment Management Rick Bischoff said. “In some areas, gains take more time, but I am confident we ultimately will realize them.”

The university’s single most challenging area involves graduation and retention, in particular with regard to the results predicted by the quality of Case Western Reserve’s incoming undergraduate classes. The graduation rate—which uses results from 2013’s commencement, measures results over a six-year period; as a result, the numbers released today involve the undergraduate class that entered in the fall of 2007—the same year that President Snyder joined the university. Within six years, 80 percent of those undergraduates had earned their bachelor’s degree, but the predicted rate is 88 percent.

Two years ago President Snyder moved the university’s first-year programs to enrollment management to ensure that responsibility for incoming students rested with the office that, at that juncture, knows the entering class best. The goal of that transition is to ensure those undergraduates experience significant guidance and support—as well as a strong sense of community—when they begin studies at an academically rigorous national research university. In addition, the university created a campus-wide task force to coordinate and enhance campus-wide retention efforts.

Among the university’s other areas of progress involved alumni giving, where the institution moved from 44th to 42nd. In 2008, that ranking stood at 109th; since that time the university has dramatically strengthened its annual fund efforts to engage more graduates.

“We are tremendously grateful to all of the alumni whose generosity has allowed us provide essential support to students, faculty and staff,” President Snyder said. “That this growing level of participation also enhances our standing is welcome additional benefit.”

With regard to specialized undergraduate programs, the Weatherhead School of Management maintained its ranking of 34, while the Case School of Engineering fell to 41st after leaping nine notches, to 35th, in rankings released in 2013. These school-specific rankings are based solely on peer assessments, and do not include any quantitative elements.