McShane Maintains Fordham on Upward Trajectory


On Sept. 12, 2019, Fordham University President Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., sent an email reporting this year’s University rankings and preliminary outlook from various academic review publications.

Fordham improved in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education Rankings, rising from 203 to 176 among 800 national institutions, as well as moving from 148 to 141 out of 650 schools according to Forbes Top Colleges.

However, McShane stated that “despite significant improvement in our graduation rate in all other categories,” Fordham dropped in national rankings on the U.S. News and World Report, falling from 70 to 74. According to McShane, Fordham was negatively affected by the addition of 100 new institutions in the rankings. The U.S. News methodology also changed this year, with the category of “high school counselor rankings” no longer being considered. Endowment also continues to be a critical factor- one which Ivy League schools have traditionally dominated.

McShane detailed in the email how the university has been seeking to improve its graduation and retention rates, both of which are important factors in U.S. News’ ranking system. “The Retention Task Force,” according to McShane, “has outlined an action plan that should enhance both our first-to-second year retention rates and our graduation rates.” Additionally, McShane announced that Fordham will hire a communications firm in order to “get the news about the University’s accomplishments out more widely.” 

The email also stated that the university will take the time to analyze these rankings and decide appropriate actions. Fordham has already begun to take steps to turn the tide and make the effort to improve rankings.

According to Bob Howe, assistant vice president for communications, Fordham’s “ongoing attention to graduation rates and retention is separate from the work of the communications firm.” 

“Broadly speaking,” Howe continued, “the communications firm’s job is twofold: identify what Fordham accomplishments our audiences find most compelling; and, identify the best way to share that data with those audiences. To that end, the firm will conduct a survey on our behalf— likely before the Christmas break. Once the results are in we will meet and discuss the next steps.”

Fordham students expressed confidence in the university’s efforts to improve it’s rankings, and how Fordham’s rankings highlight the competitive and prestigious nature of its academic programs, opportunities and acceptance rates.

Jenna Goldblatt, Fordham University Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’23, commented, “I hope to see the ranking improve and I believe it would be beneficial if Fordham could lower the overall acceptance rate by accepting fewer students by choosing applicants who will actually attend the university,” Goldblatt said. While Fordham is taking active steps to improve the rankings, Goldblatt is hopeful that the university’s acceptance rate should change for the rankings to improve. Additionally, Goldblatt suggested, “Fordham can work to improve the rate of students they choose to accept and the rate of students that actually attend to make it more equal.”

Giovanni Barreiro, FCLC ’23, said, “I think it’s good for the school to improve itself. By seeing them never stopping to give us a better education, it motivates me to do better for Fordham and do better to succeed for myself.” 

McShane clarified that rankings weren’t synonymous with Fordham’s educational value. “There is no metric for educating students of conscience, competence and compassion, nor do the numbers speak to our intellectual rigor,” McShane said. “I am very proud of our faculty and our students. . . and I feel honored by the privilege of working with all of you every day.”