Archive for Wednesday, September 12, 2012

KU’s ranking drops several notches in latest U.S. News & World Report edition

September 12, 2012


Kansas University fell a few notches in the annual U.S. News & World Report’s rankings released Wednesday.

KU ranked 106th among national universities, which is down from 101st last year, and 51st among public universities, down from 46th, according to the “Best Colleges 2013” list.

KU remained ahead of Kansas State, which was 139th and 70th, but universities such as Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa State, Colorado, Iowa, Texas, and Texas A&M; ranked higher than KU.

Leaders at KU sought to downplay the results, saying there was little change in overall scoring and that the rankings are based on indicators that may be several years behind.

Also, they said, KU’s Bold Aspirations plan, which is aimed at improving a key component of the rankings — graduation rates — will lead to a higher ranking soon.

“The priorities of Bold Aspirations — such as helping students be successful in their first year so they stay on track to graduate — are important factors in U.S. News’ rankings,” said KU Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter.

“So as we make changes in those areas, not only will we be improving the success of our students today, we’ll be setting KU up for higher rankings down the road,” Vitter said.

Vitter also said the rankings trail trends. “For example, the graduation rate in this year’s rankings is for students who came to KU between 2002 and 2005 — that’s a big lag,” he said. “It takes some time for changes we’re making now to be reflected in the rankings,” he said.

But KU noted that its School of Engineering is tied for 36th among public university engineering programs, up eight spots. The school is expanding to meet a shortage of engineers and will dedicate a new facility next month to interdisciplinary research on environmental sustainability.

The School of Business tied for 45th among public universities, which is down from 33rd. The school is undertaking a significant effort to revise curricula, start new programs and recruit additional faculty.

Graduate program rankings are released in the spring, and, in the most recent ones, KU’s special education and city management and urban planning received top rankings among public universities. Overall, 35 graduate programs are ranked in the top 40 among public institutions.

Harvard and Princeton tied for No. 1 in the national overall rankings, and University of California-Berkley and University of California-Los Angeles ranked first and second among public universities.

Schools were ranked using various data and research methods, including freshman retention, graduation rates and the strength of faculty. In addition, a number of academic indicators are analyzed, such as student selectivity, faculty resources, alumni giving and assessments by administrators at peer institutions. National universities, such as KU, are considered those that offer a full range of undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D programs and emphasize research.


yourworstnightmare 5 years, 7 months ago

KU's nearly 93% acceptance rate is what really hurts them in these rankings, in addition to low admission standards.

blindrabbit 5 years, 7 months ago

With that much in the "kitty", maybe it's time for KU to consider "buying" it's way out of the State system. With State dollars spread across 6 universities, and the Brownback Administration's willingness to accept lesser educational standards, it might be time to bail out. Going the private route might make a lot of sense for maitaining quality; it would probably be a relief for the State by capturing "sell" monies and relief from maintaining a campus that needs high maintenance and upkeep.

Orwell 5 years, 7 months ago

Interesting suggestion: the wingers refuse to support affordable, quality public education at acceptable and reliable levels, so KU should refuse to take any state revenues at all.

Yeah, that'll make it all better.

Topple 5 years, 7 months ago

Eh, I don't feel so bad.

Undergraduate accounting program at KU earned 17th nationwide and 7th among public universities in 2011.

LJD230 5 years, 7 months ago

Ain't nothing wrong with KU except it is in Kansas!!!

blindrabbit 5 years, 7 months ago

Scott: Can you document the KU rankings for the past 10 years or so. My guess is that there has been a steady decline. Thank you,

Clark Coan 5 years, 7 months ago

That's what we get for continuing to defund higher education, so blame it on the rednecks in the legislature. KU needs at least two Distinguished Professors in every department to raise it up academically.

No way are Oklahoma, Missouri, and Nebraska better schools academically.

Clovis Sangrail 5 years, 7 months ago

Didn't KU say something like "It was old data" last year, too? Or maybe "It was bad data."

I cannot recall, but I do remember there was some excuse.

If they cannot get the right data to send in, then maybe someone needs to have a little talk with the people in Institutional Research.

KS 5 years, 7 months ago

I started to say that it was because of the football program, but look at K-State! So, is this glass half full or half empty?

question4u 5 years, 7 months ago

Since there are nearly 2500 four-year colleges and universities in the United States a ranking of 106 is relatively high, though KU's position at 51st among public 4-year universities is less impressive. As a flagship university from one of 50 states, it would be nice to at least be in the top 50. The fact that KU is only 19 spots above K-State among public four-year institutions is also telling. Either K-State ranks higher than most states' land-grant institutions or KU ranks lower than most states' flagships. If it's the latter, then it's definitely time for KU to institute tougher admission standards.

voevoda 5 years, 7 months ago

The US News & World Report rankings are primarily a "beauty contest"--they are based primarily on image, and very little on real indicators of educational quality. Unfortunately, KU will always rank low as long as spokespersons for the state of Kansas continue to make us look ridiculous. A lot of people, including the academics who are surveyed, still think that evolution isn't taught in public schools in Kansas. Then we have the public statements of our politicians, which make us look like ignorant yokels.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 7 months ago

See my post below. There are factors pertinent to quality that USNWR uses. It is not a beauty contest in that sense.

Where Kansas's yokel image hurts KU is in attracting the best and most accomplished faculty and students from other parts of the country. This in turn hurts the quality factors the USNWR uses to rank schools.

It also doesn't help that the Kansas K12 public education system has been undermined by the yokels in the state, resulting in Kansas students with lower and lower test scores. The ones with good test scores go elsewhere because of the Kansas image problem.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 7 months ago

The factors that go into this calculation are: Acceptance rate, Freshman retention %, 6-year graduation %, Entering high school GPA average, ACT/SAT score averages.

USNWR does not say how it weights these factors in coming up with a ranking, but Vitter is correct in saying that boosting freshman retention and timely graduation rates are key.

I would add that acceptance rate and GPA/SAT/ACT are also key. KU's acceptance rate is at 93%, which is well above peers like Nebraska and Oklahoma, which are around 60-80%.

Tristan Moody 5 years, 7 months ago

I read through their methodology in determining the rankings -- they all seem to be pretty superficial (albeit objective) indicators. It seems though that there is nothing in there that really pertains to the quality of instruction. Why they don't include data pertaining to career success post-graduation is beyond me.

Miles Nease 5 years, 7 months ago

I have always maintained that the US News rankings are academic bubble gum cards produced for the masses. Many people in the academic world don't pay much attention to these rankings. HOWEVER, the fact that KU has continued to plummet and is, for the FIRST TIME EVER not included among the Top 50 Public Universities is completely unacceptable. Somebody's head needs to roll.

If, our acceptance rate is indeed, 93%, than we are reporting the wrong data. When we had basically no admission standards, our acceptance rate was considerably lower. Our current standards are not great, but it least they were better than they were, where a pulse would gain you admission. The new standards set to be implemented in 2016 should help, but they are not that much more difficult than the current ones.

I don't think that Strong Hall takes these rankings seriously and therefore, doesn't pay attention to the data they submit. Several years ago, US News had our endowment listed at $350 million, when in fact it was over $1 Billion. I contacted US News and they replied that they got their figures directly from KU. That is a huge mistake. When I informed KU, they said that it had been corrected. Too little, too late. The rankings were already published.

blindrabbit 5 years, 7 months ago

Regardless of the real placement in the rankings, the State of Kansas is suffering from all of the negative publicity directed to our State. Don't think so, you're wrong; people on both coasts look at us as the laughing stock of the Midwest. The question raised, how can a state be rated high educationally when so many negative impressions come to mind. And why not, misguided State Board of Education, Governor who is trying to degrade the State, Negative publicity about Koch's, Phelps, Galilee swimmer, coal fired power plants, Owens, helicopter shooter of aliens. I'll stop here but could keep going.

squawkhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

Why not? Enrollment is down. Football is down so why not academic rankings?

begin60 5 years, 7 months ago

With all the media attention to the lack of integrity in KU's athletics program and elsewhere within the university I'm not surprised. I was always a top scholar, gaining admission to several top programs and schools and teaching at some of them as well, and was truly shocked at the quality of students, staff, and the overall lack of efficiency and competence at KU. Far beyond anything I'd ever had to deal with before!

cath0830 5 years, 7 months ago

why does everyone turn to more public funding with this? Didn't KU just take in a record number of Endowment donations this year?

"Of $156.5 million, $121.4 million was outright gifts and pledges, $34.2 million was deferred donations and $900,000 was gifts made directly to the university.

Read more here:"

just a hunch, but public funding may not be the solution........ possibly, IDK, WISE spending of what they get in privately (which according to the website already accounts for 78% of the funding) is a better start.

WilburM 5 years, 7 months ago

Do you have any idea of what you are talking about? This stereotypical junk, especially as it applied to the classroom. And what about those leftist physicists, mathematicians, and biologists -- they're really affecting their students' tender minds. Indeed, lots of prospective hires might well reject the entire idea of coming to Kansas, where a far-right regime is now running the state, with an attendant lack of support for education, especially as revenues decline in future years.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 7 months ago

No, SOP just likes to repeat what he's been told. If he had gone to college he might understand. Students deserve more credit for being able to think for themselves.

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