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Fordham's Carnegie Category Successfully Appealed









 

Fordham’s Carnegie Category Successfully Appealed

This spring Nancy Busch, Ph.D., dean of GSAS, helped formulate an appeal, with Donald Gillespie, Ph.D., associate vice president for institutional research, of Fordham’s standing under the Carnegie Foundation’s classification system. The Carnegie categories, as they’re commonly called, had been revamped in January of 2006, and under the new system the three basic classifications for doctoral degree-granting institutions were “Doctoral/Very High Research Activity,” “Doctoral/High Research Activity” and “Doctoral/Research.”

“The fact that we undertook the appeal demonstrates that research is indeed valued here—some members of the community had questioned that,” Busch said. “The success of the appeal means that, for external audiences, Fordham will continue be compared with the institutions we consider peers.”
In the private preview period, Fordham was initially classified as a Doctoral/High Research Activity institution, which jibed with the University’s self-assessment of its research activities and peer institutions. In March, however, shortly before the new Carnegie standings were to be made public, Fordham’s category was downgraded to Doctoral/Research Activity, based on a misunderstanding of data reported to the National Science Foundation (NSF). The new rating, besides having implications for funding opportunities and national rankings, certainly didn’t square with the way the University’s faculty and administration saw the institution.

“The way one report was historically prepared by the comptroller’s office, some spending, especially in the Graduate Schools of Education and Social Service, was categorized as service-, rather than research-related,” Busch said. In addition, the GSAS didn’t know about the individuals serving as postdoctoral researchers in other schools, so that information was underreported as well.

“The problems in reporting weren’t the fault of the comptroller’s office or of the GSAS, but because of the criteria of the new Carnegie system, it made it appear as if we were doing less research than we actually were. We weren’t communicating well about research endeavors across schools or vice-presidential areas.”

Gillespie made the case to the Carnegie Foundation (“rather forcefully,” Busch said), that Fordham should be allowed to appeal its rating, since it was changed without sufficient time for the University to have any input into the decision, and the foundation agreed to entertain an appeal.

Busch and Gillespie reexamined the financial and personnel reports to the NSF upon which the Carnegie category is partially determined, and discovered a substantial amount of research “hidden” as service work or teaching. Fordham’s appeal was successful, and in June the University was restored to the Doctoral/High Research Activity category, which it shares with peer institutions like Boston College, Catholic University of America, George Washington University and Loyola University Chicago.

“The fact that we undertook the appeal demonstrates that research is indeed valued here—some members of the community had questioned that,” Busch said. “The success of the appeal means that, for external audiences, Fordham will continue be compared with the institutions we consider peers.”


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