Congratulations to Kansas University and especially the KU School of Business, for moving up in the recently released U.S. News and World Report ranking of the nation’s best colleges.
Rankings like these are admittedly subjective and may not fully reflect the excellence of a school, but they nonetheless provide a benchmark that many prospective students and their families consider when picking a college or university.
KU’s overall ranking rose from 51st to 47th among the nation’s public universities. It shared that spot with five other universities, including two other Big 12 schools: Iowa State University and the University of Oklahoma. KU was one of eight universities tied for the 101st spot for all universities, public and private.
U.S. News also provides separate rankings for undergraduate business and engineering programs at U.S. universities. In this ranking, the KU business school jumped from 45th last year to 36th this year among business programs at public universities and from 72nd to 58th among all schools. This significant jump is a tribute to the outstanding work of Business Dean Neeli Bendapudi, who took the reins at the school two years ago, following a troubled period marked by questionable leadership and dissatisfied students.
The KU School of Engineering school didn’t fare as well, dropping from the 36th spot last year to 45th this year among public universities. Overall, the KU program ranked 78th. That’s disappointing, but it could be a result of growing pains at the school, which has recently moved into a new building and is striving to increase its enrollment. A new dean, Michael Branicky, came on board at the school in July, and he and the rest of the engineering faculty likely are working on ways to turn that ranking around.
The U.S. News rankings are based on the academic record of students admitted to the university along with graduation rates and other measures. The magazine recently tweaked its process to give more weight to graduation rates and less weight to how selective universities are in their admissions. That seems like a better way to assess the work of universities and also plays into recent efforts at KU, including curriculum changes, designed to increase the possibility that students can complete degrees within four years.
The overall rise in KU rankings this year was modest but it nonetheless is a step in the right direction. KU officials should be proud of their accomplishment and motivated to push the university even closer to the top of this and other national rankings.