Foundation ranks UA 14th for research in US

By D. Shayne Christie
Arizona Daily Wildcat
December 5, 1996

Charles C. LaBenz
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Michael Drake (right), director of the Lunar and Planetary Sciences Laboratory, speaks alongside University of Arizona President Manuel Pacheco yesterday after the announcement that the National Science Foundation ranked the UA 10th in research among public universities and 14th overall.


The National Science Foundation has ranked the UA 10th among public universities in its latest national research rankings, President Manuel Pacheco announced yesterday.

The University of Arizona was also placed 14th among all universities, both public and private.

In a press conference held yesterday morning in the Space Sciences Mars Garden, UA President Manuel Pacheco and other top UA administrators announced the National Science Foundation rankings and talked about the university's involvement in the Mars Pathfi nder project.

Michael Drake, director of the UA Lunar and Planetary Sciences Laboratory, said the rankings are based on research expenditures.

The UA spent a total of $292.35 million on science and engineering programs in fiscal year 1995, a National Science Foundation news release stated. However, the UA spent $93.28 million in institutional funds - money that comes from the university itself r ather than from grants. That is more than seven of the public institutions which were ranked higher.

Drake said a National Academy of Sciences study in 1982 showed a strong correlation between dollars spent and high peer ratings.

Drake also said his department is a good example of how research can benefit undergraduates.

For example, in 1989 the $5 million addition to the Kuiper Space Sciences Building was paid for by research dollars from NASA. Drake said the UA charges interest to NASA to pay for the cost of the building.

The high-tech addition features classrooms with computers, VCRs, a 160-seat auditorium and other features that make the center "the best teaching facility on campus," Drake said.

Drake refuted claims that research and undergraduate education are at odds with one another.

"Students have a misconception that there is a fundamental chasm between teaching and scientific research," Drake said.

He said the Lunar and Planetary Sciences faculty teaches 100-level classes in his department.

Pacheco said, "I continue to stress that undergraduate education and research are not in competition. They are two sides of the same coin."

Leticia Santillan, marketing and international business senior, said, "The reason a lot of people come here is because of the prestige.

"I think it (the research ranking) actually improves the quality of education."