Wrighton remains confident despite drop in rankings

| News Reporters

Though Washington University in St. Louis dropped one step in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best National Universities rankings, Chancellor Mark Wrighton remains confident in the University’s quality of education and community.

Before the new report was released, Wash.U. was ranked 12th, but in the newest report, it was moved to 13th. Northwestern University and the University of Chicago again placed just ahead of Wash.U., while Brown University, Cornell University and Rice University have repeatedly been placed just behind. Previously, Johns Hopkins University has placed behind, but is now tied with Wash.U.

U.S. News & World Report ranks colleges based on a variety of factors, including graduation rate, undergraduate academic reputation, freshman retention, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving rate. Having studied and taught at two of the top 10 schools according to this list, Wrighton feels that Wash.U. is among the best schools in the country.

“We have great faculty, great students and great facilities,” Wrighton said. “The rankings will be fine.”

Wrighton feels that students “fulfill interests that are related to their academic program but also to the community,” and is, in that manner, confident in students’ abilities. He believes that if students keep contributing to the community, Wash.U. will continue to be one of the world’s best universities.

Despite the drop, this year’s freshman class is larger than any previous incoming class, with approximately 1600 freshmen.

“We had more say yes to us than anticipated,” Wrighton said.

However, despite the notable increase, Wrighton is not concerned at the capacity of the facilities and resources. He doesn’t expect a major difference in the size of classes or on-campus activities, yet changes were made in order to facilitate these students. The city of Clayton has approved Wash.U.’s request to allow more students to live on the South 40, which was previously not legal.

Even though more freshmen are enrolled this year than ever before, the University has continued its commitment to socioeconomic diversity.

According to Wrighton, the University has been more “proactive in supporting students from different backgrounds,” and he continues to “make Wash. U. accessible and affordable to large community.” The University has been trying to tighten internal spending in order to provide more financial aid to students from underprivileged families.

In the past, the University would give loans to these families, but Wrighton recognizes that families with a combined yearly income of less than $60,000 cannot handle a loan of that sort. With its “Opening Doors to the Future: The Scholarship Initiative for Washington University,” scholarship program initiated last year, the University intends to provide scholarships, replacing loans. With the combination of smaller loans, scholarships and work/study programs, Wrighton hopes the University will see even more socioeconomic diversity, giving everyone the opportunity to attend Wash.U. regardless of background.

Wrighton expects this year’s freshman class “to be great.”

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