Kansas University slipped four places in the latest U.S. News and World Report ranking of the top 50 public universities.
Last year, in the annual "America's Best Colleges" issue, KU was ranked 38th among the top 50 public schools. This year, the university was tied for 42nd with Auburn University in Alabama.
KU officials said when the university has slipped in the past, it was related to funding levels for faculty salaries. The new rankings, they insisted, do not reflect the salary increases professors are receiving this fiscal year.
"My guess is that the analysis will show KU's academic ranking is the same," Chancellor Robert Hemenway said. "This year, faculty support at the other schools improved."
"We certainly intend to be higher," Hemenway said. "Our goal is to be in the top 25. We'll keep working toward that goal."
Two individual KU undergraduate programs improved their standings in the U.S. News rankings.
KU's undergraduate business program finished 41st in a nine-way tie. Last year the business program was ranked 45th.
And KU's undergraduate engineering program was in a six-way tie for 67th place. Last year the engineering program was ranked 74th, also in a tie with several other schools.
Among the top 228 public and private universities across the country, KU was in the second tier of schools, those ranked 52nd through 115th.
The magazine used seven factors to determine its ranking of academic quality: academic reputation, student retention, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performance and alumni giving rate.
U.S. News' annual "America's Best Colleges" issue is scheduled to hit newsstands Monday.