Carnegie Mellon named a “new Ivy,” ranked 21st overall

Forget the “Nerdy Nine” — Carnegie Mellon is a new Ivy.

On August 21, Newsweek and Kaplan released their annual “How To Get Into College” guide, which ranks both universities and academic programs. “How to Get Into College” is published with a list of “25 Hot Schools.” This year, in a special feature, Carnegie Mellon was named as one of 25 “New Ivies.”

According to Newsweek, the universities named as “New Ivies” have “seen a rise in stature to rival the Ivy League and other traditional academic powerhouses in competing for the nation’s top students.”

Other schools on the list include Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Boston College, Bowdoin University, New York University, and the Claremont colleges. The schools on Newsweek’s lists are not actually part of the Ivy League, but rather compete with Ivies for the top students. Excluded from the “New Ivy” list are more traditional academic giants such as Stanford, Northwestern, and Caltech.

The article also listed “overlap” schools comparable to Carnegie Mellon that compete for the same students. They include Cornell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Pennsylvania, Julliard, and the Eastman School of Music.

“We’re all schools that are extremely powerful in this field of higher education,” said William Elliott, Carnegie Mellon’s vice-president of enrollment. “Carnegie Mellon is not an old place. We move around a lot. We are very mobile.”

“How To Get Into College” also ranks Carnegie Mellon number 75 on its list of “Top Global Universities.”
Elliott, however, was quick to note that the higher a university is ranked, the harder it is to keep moving up.

“You’ve got to be really exceptional when you get to the top of these rankings,” Elliott said. “The rest of the world isn’t standing still.”

Carnegie Mellon also worked its way up in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, climbing one spot to number 21 on the list of “Top National Universities.” The university shares its number with University of California at Berkeley.

Rankings are based on a number of factors, including peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty-to-student ratio, and selectivity. The U.S. News rankings do not, however, take athletics, social life, academic offerings, or cost into account, leading some to question how useful the rankings really are.

“I think the general public has made these rankings important,” Elliott said. “It’s certainly reflective of the work we do, but we don’t run the university to raise the rankings.”

In addition to the overall ranking, Carnegie Mellon’s engineering and business programs both received top-10 nationwide rankings. The engineering program also received top-20 rankings for its individual programs — civil, environmental, mechanical, chemical, and computer engineering.

While Elliott admits that rankings are an excellent way to sell magazines, he also knows how much they can influence the general public.

“We’d rather be on the list than off, and we’d rather be higher than lower,” he said.

To add to a growing list of national rankings, Carnegie Mellon was also ranked as one of the top 100 best scholastic environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, according to an August 15 article in The Advocate called “The Advocate Guide for LGBT Students.” The guide is the first of its kind to list LGBT-friendly schools.

This ranking comes on the heels of copious LGBT programming led by former Coordinator of Student Development Rowshawn Palmer, and her recent successor, Helen Wang. Wang oversees the coordination of LGBT programming on campus, aiming to raising awareness of LGBT issues in residential communities.

According to Wang, awareness of the LGBT lifestyle is key to every Carnegie Mellon education experience.

“We want to make [LGBT issues] have meaning to everyone on campus,” Wang said. “We are working to cultivate this culture of awareness on campus.”

SOHO, CMU Allies, cmuOUT, and Safezone comprise the core of Carnegie Mellon’s LGBT
community, all of which promote the kind of culture that supports talking about LGBT issues.
SOHO’s goal is to provide a safe space for people of all sexual orientations to feel comfortable discussing the difficult and sensitive issues surrounding gender and identity.

“Can we connect with someone from athletics? Can we connect with someone from architecture? From music?” Wang asked, speaking of the job she is doing raising awareness on campus. “Can we connect, not myopically, but really listen to what staff and students want to say?”

According to Wang, The Advocate’s ranking shows the University’s potential. Wang would like to see the university parlay the ranking into an increasingly open and tolerant community.