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U.S. News gives UA its first top 50 public university ranking

By Irene Hsiao
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
August 25, 1999

The UA is ranked in the top 50 public universities, according to the latest issue of U.S. News and World Report that hit stands yesterday. University of Arizona President Peter Likins, however, offered caution about the report's significance.

This marks the first time the UA has been included in the rankings since the category started a few years ago.

"I think we belong in that group, we're wondering why we haven't been there before," said Rick Kroc, director of UA curricular and enrollment research.

Kroc credits the placement of 48 to improved graduation rates and quality of classes.

"It's good to be in that group," he said.

The type of students accepted, faculty and class size are also factored during the ranking process.

He said the University of Arizona is at its predicted six-year graduation rate of 53 percent. Kroc said this a reasonable rate because more selective schools such as University of California at Berkeley or University of California at Los Angeles have more strict criteria to be accepted.

"We're put way down in the polls because we have such a high level of accessibility," Likins said. "The easiest way to raise graduation rates is to raise admission standards."

A state university such as the UA caters to a pool of applicants that have more varied educational backgrounds, Likins said.

"We give them a chance," he said.

Likins said the report undercuts and misrepresents universities and hurts schools like the UA.

He referred to his previous job at Lehigh University, a private school with more rigorous admission requirements.

"Don't take it all too seriously," Likins said. "I don't ever imagine Lehigh University is as good as the UA."

During Likins 15-year tenure at Lehigh, he said the school moved up in the rankings from 53 to 33. He said the UA faculty are ranked high in research, which is where the school really should be measured.

While the UA is in the top 50 of public universities, the school is still a member of the second tier of all national universities. The report does not distinguish ranking among the tiers.

Kroc believes UA is now higher in tier two since they were added to the top 50 state schools list.

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