U.S. News and World Report “America’s Best Colleges 2004″ named UR as 35th place of the country’s top national research universities, tied with New York University. For several years, UR has maintained roughly the same position with NYU and it continues to show strength and competitiveness against the largest private university in the country.”Certainly, we’re in that world,” Provost Charles Phelps said. “But the ranking system is arbitrary and whether U.S. News uses the best mechanics is another question.”One concern about the rankings is that it’s hard to rank reputation,” Phelps added. “U.S. News sends surveys regarding the academic reputations to administrative officers every year, but we, the administrators, don’t know everything about academics as well as professors or students know.”In addition, Phelps suggested that some colleges achieve higher rankings than UR due to their athletic reputations. “We don’t manage the rankings,” Phelps said. “But there’s no way some colleges that are ranked higher than us have distinguished professors like we have.” Dean of the College William Green had a very similar opinion toward the U.S. News ranking system. “This ranking ranks nothing,” Green said. “It doesn’t measure education.”But still, colleges pay attention to the U.S. News rankings simply because many applicants see it as a general guide for selecting colleges. “We have to worry about it,” Phelps said. “And I believe that UR’s rank in U.S. News will improve in the future because of our Renaissance Plan and higher graduation rates.”The UR Renaissance Plan emphasizes qualities of enrolling students by decreasing the size of undergraduate student body and providing those students with a more intimate academic environment and first-class facilities. The Renaissance Plan was introduced in 1995 by President Thomas Jackson.Dean of Students Jody Asbury agreed with Jackson about the rankings. She stressed UR’s excellent curriculums over the rankings. “I think prospective students choose to come here because of UR’s great curriculums, not because of its rankings,” Asbury said. “I’m not looking over my shoulders for the rankings.”Despite the relatively small student population at UR as a national research institute, it offers a variety of educational programs and core curriculums, which give students greater flexibility in their courses as they pursue higher education. One sign of UR’s strengths that the report highlighted was the alumni giving rate of 21 percent, which reflects on and is related to graduates’ satisfaction with the university. According to the U.S. News and World Report’s listing, this was almost double NYU’s percentage. For Asbury, Green and Phelps, rankings only reflect on external qualities of UR. Thus, they believe that students choose UR because of the inner qualities of unique life that UR offers to every single student who chooses to attend here. “Qualities and experiences that students get from UR will eventually reflect on rankings,” Asbury said. “That is why over the years, students choose to come and stay here.”As representatives of UR, Asbury, Green and Phelps strive to continue this upward trend of attracting talented students to UR.”We make UR the best as we can,” Phelps said. “But most importantly, we want the best students out there.”Aoyama can be reached at yaoyama@campustimes.org.



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