UA misses magazine's list of top 50 schools

By Lisa Heller
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 9, 1996

U.S. News and World Report placed the UA in the second tier of four in its survey of the nation's best universities, released Thursday.

The second tier is composed of universities ranked below the top 50 schools, but above the schools placed in tiers three and four.

Each year, the news magazine releases its survey to offer guidance to high school students trying to choose a college. The magazine ranked 229 universities in its 10th annual survey.

Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University are ranked in tiers three and four, respectively.

Rudy Campbell, member of the Arizona Board of Regents, said the difference in state school rankings does not necessarily mean that any school is better than the other.

"The UA is a Research I university. But ASU just became one last year, which means more support for scientific grants," he said.

Campbell also said that NAU can't be compared to ASU and the UA in its rankings.

"NAU is more of a teaching university. It's a long way from being known as a Research I university."

Although the universities in tiers two through four are ranked in the survey, the numbers are not published. Instead, they are listed in alphabetical order.

"We don't publish the rankings past the top 50," said J.J. Thompson, associate editor for U.S. News. "Because the schools are so close in ranking, it wouldn't be fair to make a distinction between them."

Last year, the UA also was ranked a tier-two school, but Thompson said it would be hard to compare the two years because the magazine changed its ranking method.

College rankings are based on their reputations (based on a survey of college presidents, deans and admissions officers) for 25 percent of the score; on selectivity for 15 percent; faculty resources for 20 percent; financial resources for 10 percent; retention for 20 percent; alumni donations for 5 percent; and value added for 5 percent.

The last category, "value added," is new. It compares the number of students expected to graduate with those who actually did.

The U.S. News is just one of many surveys published to help students decide what college is right for them.

"I think that U.S. News has a reasonable set of methodology. Historically, the survey is merely opinions of chief executive officers," said Jerry Lucido, assistant vice president for Enrollment Services and Academic Support. "Sometimes it's more of a popularity contest that honors history and tradition."

U.S. News suggested using the survey, along with considerations such as a student's academic and professional ambitions and personal preferences, to choose the school that is right for each individual.

Although Lucido believes the annual surveys are important, but are just a minor consideration when students choose a university.

"The reports are more of a curiosity," he said. "They are fun for bragging rights, but they are not terribly important from year to year."

The Sept. 16 issue containing the rankings hits newsstands today.