Dickinson’s Rank Suffers

Rachael Franchini ’19, Editor-in-Chief

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In a comprehensive, national ranking of liberal arts colleges, Dickinson fell from 41st to 51st from 2015 to 2016.

The study, published by U.S. News, came out on Tuesday, Sept. 12 and is a review of data from 2016. Some of the categories on which U.S. News bases its assessment of colleges include academic life, selectivity, alumni starting salaries, student life, tuition and fees, campus safety and campus services.

“I look on [the rankings] as an opportunity,” stated President Margee Ensign. “[But], it doesn’t reflect the world class education you’re getting.” She mentioned that the class of 2021 is the most diverse class in Dickinson’s history, something that is not included in the rankings.

In a Sept. 12 email sent to the Dickinson community, Ensign cited the rankings as “disappointing.”  She also expressed reservations about the “validity of the ranking system” of U.S. News, citing a Politico article that points out potential skewed results towards expensive institutions enrolling wealthy students and boasting wealthy alumni.

Vice President and Dean of Student Life Joyce Bylander and Ensign both cited Dickinson’s endowment performance in fiscal year (FY) 2016 as the result of the drop in rankings.

According to a Sept. 26, 2016 article by Bloomberg Markets, Dickinson “posted a 4.4 percent investment loss in fiscal 2016, [which is] one of the worst returns among schools so far.” At the time of printing of Bloomberg Markets’ article, many other schools had not yet reported their performance for FY2016. Since then, however, according to a Jan. 31, 2017 article by Inside Higher Ed, many colleges and universities experienced net losses, and endowments returned an average of -1.9 percent across the board.

Bylander stated that the dip in rankings is reflecting the endowment numbers from FY2016. “The fact that the market rebounded doesn’t mean anything yet…that’ll be next year,” she said, referring to the fact that the study released on Sept 12. only looked at data from 2016.

However, Trinity College, whose endowment is also managed by Investure, LLC, just as Dickinson’s is, posted a 5.4 percent loss in FY2016, one percent worse than Dickinson, but is ranked seven spots above Dickinson, at 44th.

The email sent out by Ensign to the Dickinson community on Sept. 12 also cited the lower than average yield rate in the class of 2020, despite the record number of applications and a lower than anticipated net tuition revenue (NTR) for the class of 2020.

Competitor colleges such as Franklin and Marshall, Gettysburg and Lafayette are ranked at 39th, 46th and 36th, respectively.

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