Ranking not reflective of campus reality

The 2016 U.S. News & World Report’s National University college rankings were published Wednesday morning, and the University of Miami has experienced a disappointing slip. We have long prided ourselves as the best university in the state after consistently ranking above other Florida schools, but that reign ended today as the University of Florida rose to a three-way tie at 47 and UM fell from 48 to 51.

The school’s ranking has steadily been dropping since its peak position of 38 in 2011. Now, for the first time since 2009, UM is no longer among the top 50 national universities. This decrease will no doubt be a challenge for the school’s public relations and admissions. Many students and families rely heavily on college rankings when making decisions about where to apply and where to enroll, and the seemingly small decrease that places UM just outside the top 50 could make a world of difference to prospective applicants.

Yet the ranking, which was heavily based on perceived academic reputation, student retention and graduation rates, and faculty resources, seems at odds with the changes happening on the ground here in Coral Gables.

In these past two years, the new Frost Music Studios have been opened, another $1.6 billion has been raised through the Momentum2 fundraising campaign, a new president has been recruited from the nation’s best school of public health, and the new UHealth Lennar Foundation Medical Center is scheduled to be finished by next year. In addition, higher-quality student housing is in the works, and improved residential colleges will no doubt attract more students and increase student satisfaction.

The university has clearly built a strong foundation for long-term improvements in academics and student life, and perhaps this underlying trajectory cannot yet be reflected in short-term rankings. However, if these many investments do indeed pay off, we can expect to see UM’s ranking rising once again in the coming years.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.