By Pat Higgins | Asst. Sports Editor
September has arrived, the fall semester is in full bloom and U.S. News and World Report has released the Best Colleges 2014 edition. Duquesne ranks once again as a top tier national university and more notably, one of six Catholic institutions in the top 50 Best Value Schools in the country at No. 45.
Of the six Catholic schools named, Duquesne ranked behind only the University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University and Boston College earning recognition for ‘Great Value at a Great Price.’
President Charles Dougherty said the most recent rankings continue to cement the university’s nationally recognized academic reputation.
“We have been named a national top tier for about five or six years now so this is really a confirmation that it’s no fluke for us to be up there,” Dougherty said. “This is a real recognition of the quality of the education that is provided here on our bluff. The more often that we are on that list the more solidified our reputation becomes. And every year we move up a slot or two, so it keeps getting better.”
Only schools listed as top tier institutions are eligible for consideration on the Best Value list. The report considers academic quality and average cost after receiving grants based on need ($26,912 this year on the Bluff). Duquesne’s tuition was the lowest of the Catholic schools that appeared in the top 50.
“We have outstanding professors. We hire nationally and they are what we consider the tops in terms of our teacher scholar model, which is to say they’re dedicated in the classroom and they’re also active scholars,” Dougherty said. “On the administrative side, we are a very lean organization. We don’t have more people than we need doing the jobs we need to get done.”
“Every year we move up a slot or two, so it keeps getting better.”
Associate Provost of Enrollment Management Paul-James Cukanna said rankings like these “reflect the strategic effort of President Dougherty and his cabinet over the past decade.”
“[President] Dougherty wants Duquesne to have vitality in academics, vitality in financial management, vitality in mission and vitality in those he’s called to serve [students],” Cukanna said.
Moving forward, both Cukanna and Dougherty said the university administration is committed to constant and continuing improvement, from the quality of education offered in the classroom to the construction of state-of-the-art facilities such as the Power Center, Des Places and projects that will surface in the future.
Even with all that, the focus will remain around providing an affordable opportunity to learn on an aesthetically pleasing campus.
Cukanna said the university aims to “ensure that we’re an institution of choice for academically talented and motivated students from all demographic backgrounds.”
“We have to ensure that we continue to be true to our mission,” Cukanna said. “We have to ensure that we continue to manage the institution in a sophisticated manner. We know that the marketplace will continue to be more demanding and more competitive because of demographic shifts.”
About 85 percent of the university’s annual revenue comes from student tuition.
Dougherty said the administration’s focus in re-investing is “to attract students,” a strategy that has succeeded in recent years evidenced by the record number of freshmen who enrolled in each of the past two academic years.
“Our primary job [as administrators] is to leave behind a better university than the one we found,” Dougherty said. “We’re working every day to improve the university and the sense of mission.”
“That sense of snowballing, of getting better all the time, is just what we want to create. And I have every confidence that five years from now ten years we will have an even better Duquesne than we do now.”