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4 UA graduate programs make the grade

By Jay Dirner
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
April 4, 2000
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MIS, speech/language pathology, audiology, creative writing make U.S. News' top ten

Students in four University of Arizona graduate programs are studying at one of the top institutions in the United States, according to the latest rankings by U.S. News and World Report.

The weekly newsmagazine annually lists the top U.S. graduate schools. This year, the UA's graduate program in management information systems was ranked fifth, speech and language pathology and audiology were both ranked sixth, and the creative writing master's program was ranked ninth.

"I was thrilled," said Boyer Rickel, acting director of the creative writing program. "Anytime you get that kind of recognition from outside it substantiates where you stand and makes you very happy. We have a very successful program."

Rickel said he hoped the ranking would bring new monetary support for creative writing, which needs to improve its program.

"We have very limited resources," Rickel said. "We'd like more teaching scholarships to help our grad students. Frankly, there are other programs ranked below us that have more to offer, so students here sacrifice for the opportunity to work with our faculty."

Rickel said that the quality of the UA's creative writing faculty is the program's greatest asset.

"Our faculty is very dedicated to the development of our students' writing," he said. "Our classes are very small, and the students' work receives very close attention."

Mark Zupan, dean of the Eller College of Business and Public Administration, said the fifth-place ranking of the MIS program was especially significant considering its lack of funding and high student demand.

"We're very pleased given the pressures the department has been under, vis--vis state funding and student demand," Zupan said. "Staying in the top five was a great achievement but we have to continue to be aggressive and garner more state resources to meet student demand."

Kartikey Jani, a MIS graduate student, said that he thought the MIS program deserved a higher ranking.

"It's just maintaining it's fifth-place from last year. I think the quality of students is getting better and better, so I don't see why it couldn't be better than five. I'm not satisfied with fifth rank and I look forward to it being in the top two or three departments," said Jani.

The Eller College received a 31st place ranking for its overall graduate programs, of which Zupan said he was very proud.

"It was our highest ever. I'm enormously proud and grateful for the job the staff is doing," he said. "We're always trying to raise the bar."

Rickel said he expects the ranking of the creative writing master's program to improve next year, thanks to new faculty and the continued success of its students.

"I expect it (our ranking) to go up," he said. "We are hiring new, exciting faculty and are getting new grad students. One of our students (Mong-Lan Phan) won a Stegner Award this year - it's the second year in a row and maybe our sixth student to win a Stegner."

Stanford University awards the Stegner annually to outstanding writing students.

U.S. News and World Report ranks more than 200 schools throughout the United States by overall graduate programs and also specific degree offerings.

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