Climbing high
Ranking remains consistent.
This article originally appeared in The Tiger on August 28, 2009 | PRINT

The scores are in and rankings show that Clemson University has placed 22nd in the U.S. News and World Report Best Public Universities for the second year in a row.

While this is a huge honor, some students have questioned why the Univerity hasn’t improved its status.

Much of the reason lies with the economic downturn that has gripped all universities and colleges in the country.

“We are in challenging times and the challenges have changed,” said Dean of Undergraduate Students Joy Smith, referring to the economy. “The external challenges have changed.”

However, through these times, Clemson has risen to the occasions with innovative thinking that stretches the budget in ways that haven’t been done before, with surprisingly positive results.

“Throughout the budget difficulties of the past year, it has become essential at Clemson to change the way we think about the operations of the University,” said Undergraduate Student Body President Abby Daniel. “We are currently doing more with less funding than ever before, which is the result of some very innovative thinking and some very necessary changes to the way we go about business. “

Another reason for staying in 22nd place is Clemson’s current position on the list.

Some of the other colleges this high on the ranking have been in these positions for years, making competition more difficult to, as Smith said, “exchange positions.”

Part of Clemson’s appeal is also that the University has been striving to make changes that affect the University as a whole, not based necessarily on only those standards required by the U.S. News and World Report.

“We need to make sure that we way we measure ourselves is not only the Top 20,” Smith said. “Those are the external measures. The internal measures may not be as visible but are important too.”

With the results in from U.S. News and World Report, many different departments on campus have been thinking of ways to improve their particular requirement of the Top 20.

For student government, Daniel wants to raise student involvement this year, thus increasing the student voice in CUSG decisions as well as student retention and alumni giving.

“We daily try to improve the services we provide to students, the amount of student input that reaches the ears of administration and faculty, the support provided to student organizations, the opportunities for engagement on campus and the continued feeling of community and family felt on campus by helping to uphold the history and traditions of the University, “ said Daniel.

Similarly, Student Affairs is working towards improving upon their already successful freshman and sophomore retention programs.

By synchronizing these goals with the overall goals of the University, Clemson is on its way to reaching its high goal.

“The bottom line is that the things that the US News and World Report measures, I can look at those things and say that these are things that are good for our students. These are things that will help the students have a better experience,” said Smith. “And that’s what I’ve given my life to, helping you all have a better experience. It’s important to me to keep improving that experience for you and if the University focuses on that Top 20 goal, that’s helping us make a better experience for you.”

Criteria for the Top 20 list include retention rates, graduation rates, percentage of classes under 20 students, percentage of classes over 50 students, student to faculty ratio, alumni donations, reputation among other schools, academic statistics of the most recent incoming class and average faculty salary.

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