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OU President Duane Nellis addresses lags in university ranking system

Ohio University receives rankings from several publications, including U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, Washington Monthly and The Wall Street Journal, with each one based on different criteria.

Although various ranking systems focus on different aspects of the university, there can be a lag in the ranking system because rankings are based off previous years. 

The Wall Street Journal narrows its rankings to four major categories: graduation rates, resources, student engagement and environment. OU is ranked 454 among all public and private universities in the U.S. by The Wall Street Journal

“It takes two years for (data) to show up, so a lot of the data they’re ranking us on is from two years, sometimes three, sometimes even longer than that,” OU President Duane Nellis said at the September Faculty Senate meeting. “The graduation rate we’re at now is 64 percent and that was from the students who came in six years ago that graduated this year.”  

At the latest Faculty Senate meeting, Nellis addressed a lag in retention rate data regarding graduation outcomes. 

“I don’t know where they are getting that big sample because a lot of universities don’t systematically collect that information of their graduates and their starting salary,” Nellis said.

The total ranking takes resources, the amount of dollars per student invested, faculty per student and papers per faculty into consideration.

Despite rankings possibly not reflecting up-to-date data, OU is ranked 68th in the nation in the student engagement and interaction category, which is higher than Harvard, Nellis said. 

With regards to the environmental category, it primarily focuses on diversity and inclusion within the student and faculty populations. According to The Wall Street Journal, OU went down from a 4.3 to 4.9 ranking this year. 

The lag impacts accuracy, considering OU was recently announced a winner of the HEED Award, an award on national diversity. 

“I do believe that our university is diverse,” Mckenna Connolly, a freshman studying exercise physiology, said in an email. “I have seen many different ethnic backgrounds and cultures get involved and make the most of what this campus has to offer.” 

Different resources on campus contribute to the environment at OU.

“They have the multicultural center in Baker and the university has the global opportunities center for those who want to diversify their time here. The school community makes it a safe place for all genders, races, and sexual orientations because I always see different organizations embracing those aspects of students,” Jillian Bowen, an undecided freshman, said in an email.

Nellis countered the rank by addressing that OU is up in international students this year. 

“We have the most diverse freshman class I think we’ve ever had,” he said. 


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