U.S. News ranks AU 99

U.S. News and World Report published its 2004 rankings for best universities on Aug. 22. AU ranked 99 out of the 248 national universities with doctoral programs considered.

The statistics used for the report were collected from information taken in 2002.

According to the weekly news magazine, "the methods used to evaluate academic quality fall into seven categories: assessment by administrators at peer institutions, retention of students, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving and ... graduation performance-the difference between the proportion of students expected to graduate and the proportion that actually do."

AU had an overall score of 43 for the seven categories.

"The data for [2003] is already improving as qualifications for students and faculty continue to improve," Provost Neil Kerwin said.

AU's peer assessment score of 2.9 and an average freshman retention rate of 86 percent factored into the score. The 66 percent graduation rate is four points lower than AU's expected rate.

The average SAT and ACT score in the 25th to 75th percentile is 1110 to 1320.

"The freshmen SAT scores have improved and are the highest in AU history," said Kerwin, who has been working at AU since 1975.

Classes with fewer than 20 students make up 38 percent of classes, with four percent of classes having more than 50 students. Full-time faculty members taught 75 percent of AU's classes, according to U.S. News and Word Report.

The number of adjuncts teaching at AU dropped from 528 when the U.S. News and World Report ranking was compiled in 2002 to 475 in 2003.

AU accepted 63 percent of freshman applicants in 2002 according to the magazine. The 2003 freshman acceptance rate is 59 percent.

"I think that there is a proactive group of leaders here on campus and our rankings will continue to improve in the future," Graduate student Hilario Gutievvez said.

Other students questioned the importance of this ranking.

"U.S. News and World Report only looks at certain criteria and a lot of these things do not further our educational experience," junior Courtney Fry said. "I hope that people who are applying for college look at more than just rankings."

Georgetown was the only first tier school in the District. George Washington ranked 51, Catholic 112 and Howard 117.

"When compared to other D.C. schools the ranking is not very impressive, however I am happy with the school because of my department [SIS]," junior Wingkea Chan said.

Alumni give an average of 13 percent to AU.

"We are confident that this percentage will increase as graduates become more satisfied with their education at AU," Kerwin said.

Freshmen graduating in the top ten percent of their class ranked at 31 percent.

This is the first year AU has been ranked. In previous years, U.S. News and World Report ranked the first tier university and alphabetized the remaining universities.

"It is rewarding to know that we are ranked, but numbers do not create the whole picture," Student Confederation President Nick Terzulli said. "I am confident that if researchers from U.S. News and World Report would spend a semester at AU their assessment would be higher after watching the various activities that occur on campus."

Vice President for Campus Life Gail Hanson has a similar opinion.

"You can be pleased that AU is in the top 100, but some of the things that U.S. News and World Report evaluate are not necessarily what students evaluate as a first rate experience and a first rate student experience is what AU is striving for," Hanson said.

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