UR was recently ranked 34th this year among America’s best national universities, up from 37th last year, on the U.S.News and World Report’s annual listings of “America’s Best Colleges 2006.”

“I don’t have to read U.S.News to know about the level of excellence here,” Dean of Students Jody Asbury said. “UR is a very exciting place to be and it’s only going to get better and better, not just in academics, but in sports and other extracurricular activities, both on- and off-campus.”

UR was also ranked third among the national universities in New York State, behind Columbia University and Cornell University, and ahead of New York University.

“U.S.News has devised a formula in which it attaches weighted values to statistics supplied by American colleges and universities,” Dean of The College William S. Green said. “Our statistics in some areas were better than last year’s and relatively better than those of some other schools this year – consequently, our place on the magazine’s list this year is higher than it was last year.”

The U.S.News rankings are based on several indicators of academic quality, such as graduation rate, student to faculty ratio, and acceptance rate, among many others.

“We’re a small school, and in a certain sense, we have two disadvantages in U.S.News,” President Joel Seligman said. “One, our size means our faculty publishes less. If we doubled the size of our faculty, we would be more visible. The peer reputation among faculty and administrators would be higher simply by the larger size.”

Continuing, he said, “Rochester is a wonderful city, but it is a little off the beaten path in terms of national media. The challenge we have is not to wring our hands and accept these disadvantages as inevitable, but to try harder.”

However, many students do not see these disadvantages and are very happy about the programming and experience that they receive here.

“There are a lot of programs in the university that have really begun to take off, things like the Kauffman initiative,” senior Sam Boyer said. “Also, I think that we’re beginning to reap the benefits of the Renaissance Plan initiated by [former] President [Thomas] Jackson. Rochester has made a lot of long term investments in itself over the past ten years and they’re starting to bear fruit.”

Many of UR’s programs have been listed as some of the best in the nation. The William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration was ranked 23rd and the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s program in Primary Care was ranked 17th. Similarly, the College’s Department of Political Science and Department of Economics were ranked 13 and 19 in the nation, respectively.

The unique “Rochester Curriculum” allows students to pursue their choice of discipline in the social sciences, humanities or natural sciences subdivisions and was viewed as a major reason for the jump in rank.

“The ‘Rochester Curriculum’ is a distinctive curriculum that has a great appeal,” Dean of Students Jody Asbury said. “People are encouraged to pursue what they love to do, which makes them happier and more productive.”

The jump in ranking has given Seligman a boost of confidence with which he hope to improve upon.

“It’s good, but to be candid, I would like to go a lot further,” Seligman said. “U.S.News is not a perfect measure. I take it very seriously, though, that it matters to students and it matters to alumni. And my sense is, the difference between 34 and 37 is slight, nevertheless, the trend lies in the right direction.”

Sridharan can be reached at asridharan@campustimes.org.

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