Last year, The Daily Campus ran a news story titled “Potential budget cuts hit hard days after UConn achieves highest national ranking ever.” Almost like an oracle, the point implied by such a title has come true. This year, the University of Connecticut ranked as the 22nd best public university in America, four places lower than in 2017.
The U.S. News and World Report rankings came to this conclusion on Monday. While they do not give this as their rationale for the stumble, many students and administrators believe this to come as a direct result of the state budget cuts announced last year. There is no denying that the millions of dollars less that UConn will receive will affect its quality of education, and there is little doubt that U.S. News took this into account.
Until we rise again, UConn cannot claim to be a top 20 public university, a figure that was plastered everywhere when it was still true. For administration, this is a nightmare; prospective students everywhere look at the rankings to decide which applications they will attempt. For current students, this figure is disappointing but not all-around surprising. As on any campus, there is always discontent brewing, and many will feel this fall vindicates their displeasure.
However, it is important for current students to keep in mind why this can directly affect them. Representatives and administrators are already doing damage control, shifting to the phrase “top 25 public university.” And truthfully, being in the top 25 does not sound too much worse than top 20. If we drop by a similar amount again, though, we suddenly have to switch to top 30. Or perhaps we will instead lean on being in the top 100 overall. The point is, UConn has the potential to falter again, and with it comes the reputation of the school.
After students graduate, they will continue to have the University of Connecticut on their resume for the rest of their life. Any future employer will rate the education received at UConn compared to all of the other applicants. For now, this is a good thing: UConn still has a great reputation as a public university. If the university keeps falling, though, it matters less and less whether UConn was pretty good back in the day. People, including hiring managers, will have a tainted opinion of the university and thus an individual’s resume as a whole.
Of course, this sounds very doom and gloom. There is no indication that UConn will not stabilize and even rebound in the rankings and reputation. But this fear is not unfounded, nor is it something that only administrators should worry about. All UConn students, faculty and graduates are invested in the reputation of the university. If you feel that UConn deserves better, it is up to you to make this clear to those with the power to change.