Kansas University’s School of Law dropped 12 spots to a tie at No. 79 among all universities in the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings released Tuesday.
Stephen W. Mazza, interim dean of KU’s law school, said the school’s low bar passage rate in 2009 was to blame.
“In our case, it’s very easy to identify why this temporary drop took place,” he said.
Only 75 percent of the school’s students passed the bar in 2009, the reporting period used for the latest rankings. That rate is normally around 90 percent, Mazza said, and was back up around that rate in 2010.
After seeing the low passage rates in 2009, the law school added bar preparation programs for students in the spring semester of their third year, which have paid off so far, Mazza said. The law school ranked 38th among public universities.
The magazine released rankings for several graduate programs on Tuesday. The overall rankings for universities are scheduled to be released in August.
KU retained its strong position in special education and city management and urban policy, which both ranked No. 1 among public institutions.
At KU Medical Center, the medicine-primary care increased to 30th among publics and nursing moved up to 24th among public schools.
The university’s special education program ranked No. 2 behind only Vanderbilt University when both public and private schools were considered.
The School of Business’ part-time MBA program in the Kansas City area experienced a drop-off in the rankings. The school moved from 29th place among public schools two years ago to 46th place this year, said Toni Dixon, a spokeswoman for the school. The magazine didn’t rank the programs last year.
Dixon said the school’s full-time MBA program wasn’t listed in the magazine’s rankings because it didn’t have enough students to qualify for inclusion.
Mazza said he didn’t anticipate that the law school would suffer long-term negative effects from the drop that he said should be temporary.
He said he was pleased with other parts of the report, some of which could help bolster the law school’s ranking next year. KU law’s reputation score went up, for example. It also ranked among the top 25 public schools in a new listing the magazine created called “When Lawyers Do the Hiring.”
That list is based on the opinions of people doing the hiring at the some of the nation’s major law firms.