Illinois isn’t just No. 1 in rankings

By Erin Kelley

The University of Illinois is ranked number 42 among national universities and 11 among public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges 2006” list.

U.S. News ranks graduate programs for schools every year in business, education, engineering, law and medicine.

According to their methodology, the score is based on expert opinion about the quality of the program and statistical data measuring the quality of the faculty, research and students.

Sciences, social sciences and humanities are also ranked on the ratings from academic experts.

Besides placing in the top 50 as an institution, some of the University’s programs have been recognized by other surveys as being the best in the nation during the past few years.

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Illinois’ graduate business program ranked 28 overall for 2007 (printed in 2006), while the accounting program was ranked first in the country. The undergraduate accounting program was ranked No. 1, and the undergraduate engineering program has also been ranked fourth for 2006 (printed in 2005).

Tracy McCabe, assistant dean for External and Alumni Affairs, said the ranking is not the most important source from which the business college’s value should be derived from.

“The college of Business is differentiated not by what we teach but how we teach our students,” McCabe said.

According to McCabe, the best feature of the business college is that the faculty work to identify the attributes and skills the business community is looking for and adjust the curriculum accordingly.

Robin Kaler, associate chancellor of the University, said the University’s self-esteem should not be based on how the U.S. News ranks its colleges and programs.

“We know the strengths of our programs,” she said.

Kaler also said she thinks the methodology behind the rankings is questionable because schools are so much different.

She also said students consider much more than how the college ranks on a survey, such as the variety of majors, study abroad possibilities, the school setting, residence halls, clubs and the social scene on and around campus.

Kaler also noted that some of the programs at Illinois are not even ranked but still have outstanding programs

Ron Yates, dean of the College of Communication, said that while there is no official ranking for journalism programs, the University’s programs are one of the best in the country.

“The journalism faculty from top to bottom is an amazing group,” Yates said.

The college, which traditionally accepted only juniors and seniors, is also moving toward accepting freshmen and expand its programs. This spring the college accepted applications from any student who completed or would complete 30 hours at the end of the semester. Yates said he likes the idea of having the students start out in the college because the faculty will be able to work with them longer, allowing the students to form a better relationship with their professors.

Yates said the University’s journalism program, one of the last two year programs remaining, has lost students to other universities that have a four year program. But the college plans on capping total enrollment at 1,100.

“We take pride in the small classes we offer,” he said.