Archive for Friday, August 18, 2006

KU climbs in national rankings

Last year it was 45th, and this year’s it’s 39th

August 18, 2006


Kansas University freshmen Greg Schleifman, left, of Arlington, Va., and Jami Fadare, of Lansing, return to their residence hall after the first day of classes. KU climbed to 39th among public institutions according to the annual report from U.S. News and World Report college rankings. Fall semester classes at KU began Thursday.

Kansas University freshmen Greg Schleifman, left, of Arlington, Va., and Jami Fadare, of Lansing, return to their residence hall after the first day of classes. KU climbed to 39th among public institutions according to the annual report from U.S. News and World Report college rankings. Fall semester classes at KU began Thursday.

On the roller-coaster ride that is the U.S. News & World Report college rankings, Kansas University has climbed a hill - ranking 39th among public institutions.

That's up from last year's 45th place and on par with the school's 2001 ranking.

KU has inched up and down along the list in recent years, hovering in the range of 39th to 45th place among public institutions. Among public and private universities, KU ranked 88th, up from 97th last year.

The undergraduate engineering program ranked 41st among public universities.

Chancellor Robert Hemenway has long said that he wants KU to be among the top 25 public universities.

"We're pleased with the progress and feel like there's movement in the right direction," he said.

The magazine uses a series of measures to rank universities, including graduation rates, class sizes, alumni giving rates and acceptance rates.

KU made small changes in some areas from the previous year, while in other areas it remained steady:

¢ The peer assessment score, based on the opinions administrators at other institutions have of KU, remained steady at 3.3 out of a possible 5 points.

¢ The freshman retention rate rose by 1 percentage point to 82 percent.

¢ The graduation rate went up 2 percentage points to 59 percent. But it was among the lowest among institutions that were ranked on par with KU on the list of best national universities.

Stacking up

Kansas University went up six notches in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings of the nation's public universities.

KU was 39th in this year's "America's Best Colleges" rankings. Last year it was 45th. KU has set the goal of being in the top 25 universities by 2010.

Here's how KU has ranked historically:

1998: 30th

1999: 38th

2000: 42nd

2001: 39th

2002: 41st

2003: 44th

2004: 42nd

2005: 45th

2006: 39th

¢ KU's acceptance rate increased from 69 percent to 74 percent. Generally universities with lower acceptance rates are considered more elite.

¢ The percent of faculty who are full-time employees increased 1 percentage point to 98 percent.

¢ KU reported having more classes with fewer than 20 students and fewer big classes with more than 50 students. Those figures were reported as percentages of all classes.

Jason Boots, KU's student body president, said prospective students check out the rankings.

"I think we get good students regardless of what our rankings are," he said.

Critics of college rankings say such lists are misleading and unreliable because the magazine counts on schools to self-report many of the underlying figures.

"There's no way to verify these figures are reliable, and they can be easily laundered," said Lloyd Thacker, executive director of the Education Conservancy.

Some KU faculty members say they don't put much stock in the numbers.

"I don't care about rankings," said longtime English professor Jim Carothers. "It's a game."

Ruth Ann Atchley, associate professor of psychology and president of KU's Faculty Senate, said she believes most faculty look at the rankings with a "good deal of skepticism," and she questions the methods used to come up with the figures.

Atchley said she could conduct a study of which bakery makes the best cookie in town, an effort that would include a personal taste test. She would trust her cookie study as much as she would the U.S. News & World Report's rankings, she said.

"My worry is people put too much stock in something that I see is, at best, messy, and, at worst, poor - pseudoscience," Atchley said.

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- The Associated Press contributed to this report.


fletch 11 years, 7 months ago

It would be great to be a Top 25 university, but let's have some ratings that matter. These magazine reports are heavily flawed in the way they collect their data and arbitrary in how they weight certain factors over others. Get a real rating system, and we'll talk.

Kuku_Kansas 11 years, 7 months ago


There are over 1200+ colleges and universities, public and private "ranked" by the US News & World Report.

Maybe I missed something...but I don't have time to discuss this with classclown.

To the corner please.

wagenseil 11 years, 7 months ago

If the numbers are so easily manipulated, let's get some of KU's over-paid spin-meisters busy manipulating them! They are still trying to convince us that a slap in the face by the National Science Foundation and the loss of a national research center (a couple, actually -- Latin American Studies also lost its funding, another big slap) is nothing to worry about, so jiggering the U.S. News rankings should be a piece of cake!

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 7 months ago

We went up in the rankings?!

  • Grossly underpaid faculty and staff.
  • Terribly maintained facilities.
  • Cannot keep a major research grant when we claim to be a research university.

This ranking feels like a "gift" to me.

Godot 11 years, 7 months ago

Good for Hemenway, he finally managed to pull KU back up to where it was when he took over.

countrygirl 11 years, 7 months ago

I just read on another web site that KU and Mizzu tied for 39th. Why did the LJW mention that?

Nate Poell 11 years, 7 months ago

Actually, the University of Florida has a pretty rigorous rating system. Their 2005 report (available here: puts Kansas in the top 25 public research universities, with only three public Big 12 schools ranked higher. While there's certainly room for improvement, that's not too damn bad.

not_so_fast: WTF?

Godot 11 years, 7 months ago

I love how academics are skeptical of ratings - except the ones that favor them.

sampierron 11 years, 7 months ago

Actually, by all rights, Mizzou's resources should put it way ahead of KU. It's both the flagship school and the land-grant school for a large state. Nobody does less with more than the University of Missouri, be it in academics or sports.

Confrontation 11 years, 7 months ago

Mizzou is also the home to KKK marches. Yeah, they shouldn't be ranked anywhere close to KU.

not_dolph 11 years, 7 months ago

Confrontation - I remember when the KKK came to campus at KU. Does that make us close to MU?

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