Stillman President Dr. Cynthia Warrick said the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings does not accurately represent the impact that Stillman has on the community, the state, or the nation.
“Even though we’ve got these students getting PhDs and getting great jobs and starting their own businesses and we’re producing teachers and our Honda Quiz Bowl team won a national championship, we don’t get any credit for that,” Warrick told AL.com.
“If the data were more fair, then you’d have more HBCUs higher in the ranking system because of the outcomes they produce,” she added.
Stillman received an overall score of 40 out of 100 in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2022-23 rankings. Researchers ranked the college 63rd out of 132 southern regional colleges, and 59th out of 77 HBCUs.
Warrick commented on how U.S. News uses graduation rates as its number one measurement quality in terms of the ranking and how that is problematic for smaller schools like Stillman.
“How they measure graduation rates is based on first-time, full time freshman and following them through six years,” she said. “The current cohort rankings today is the 2015-16 years when Stillman was having serious financial challenges. We lost over 200 students, with a 27% graduation rate.”
According to AL.com, Warrick said that she did not think the rankings accurately account for Stillman’s student body demographics or internal efforts to improve diversity and career outcomes.
“Stillman has found that the circumstances of poverty challenges these students to make decisions that call them in and out of enrollment,” Warrick said. “Yet, Stillman remains committed to them. How does U.S. News measure our commitment? I opine that it does not.”
The U.S. News and World Report surveys colleges annually based on graduation and retention rates, social mobility, academic reputation, faculty resources, student selectivity, funding, donations, and student debt. Researchers say they collect most of their data directly from schools but use similar guidelines to other federal databases.
Warrick told WVUA23, that withdrawing was a tough decision, but she feels the metrics are flawed, misleading to prospective students and don’t accurately reflect the quality of a Stillman education.
“I think what should happen if U.S. News wants to continue and have a fair rankings process, they should have some kind of external ranking process,” Warrick said. “They should have some type of external panel of experts to talk about these factors so we can get a fair ranking system because I think competition is good. We don’t want to avoid competition. I think if you have all the data together, we would get more students,” Warrick said.