UConn is marking its sixth consecutive year among the nation’s Top 25 public universities as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
The No. 20 ranking, released Tuesday, reflects UConn’s strong graduation and retention rates, academic excellence, faculty resources, and several other factors that the magazine weighs in its annual evaluations.
A school’s overall trajectory is what to watch. — President Susan Herbst
UConn has experienced noticeable momentum in the rankings since about 2000, when it was No. 38 among public universities. It moved into the mid-20s over the following years and eventually matched or outpaced some of the nation’s most noted public universities.
UConn has remained between No. 19 and No. 21 each year since 2011, occasionally tied with other universities at the same spot.
“Universities expect some movement on this list annually. Moving a place or two up or down in a given year is not significant. A school’s overall trajectory is what to watch,” UConn President Susan Herbst says. “UConn has gone from being number 38 among public universities only 15 years ago to being a Top 25 university for the past six years. We intend to remain there.”
UConn has more control over some factors in the ranking than others. For instance, its strong graduation and retention rates are a benefit to the overall score that U.S. News calculates, while some other measures – such as assessment by other colleges’ presidents and provosts – are more subjective.
Herbst says there are two factors at work in the case of UConn’s movement this year from No. 19 to No. 20. “The first is movement among other schools, which we cannot control. This year, one top UConn peer university fell, while another rose. The combined effect likely pushed UConn down a notch.
“The second is that temporary budget pressure has meant slower faculty hiring even as we have enrolled more students,” she adds. “This can affect some U.S. News measures.”
Herbst says UConn remains very strong in key areas. “Our retention and graduation rates are high and holding steady, our academic reputation is firm, and we have successfully maintained the academic quality of our incoming classes, even as enrollment has grown.
“Our goal is always to rise in this ranking, which does focus on several meaningful metrics. We are going to continue to invest all the resources we can in what is most important: academic quality and student success,” she adds.
Being in the Top 25 of the annual U.S. News ranking is one of several national accolades that UConn has received in recent months.
Money magazine’s 2016 ranking of best colleges lists UConn as the 18th best value among public universities nationwide and No. 38 among all public and private institutions, based on average financial aid received and graduates’ early career earnings.
UConn also was notified this month that it is in the Top 10 in the top 10 schools in the Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” ranking for the fifth time in as many years; and the University is consistently cited in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s list of 100 best values in public colleges.
UConn’s ascent also has been noticed by prospective students, including the 36,000-plus who competed for spots in this year’s freshman class.
The academic strength of UConn’s freshman classes has been one of several factors in the University’s rise in the U.S. News standings in recent years. The reduction in class sizes, alumni giving, reputation among guidance counselors, and other factors also play a role.
Several major initiatives under way also are expected to help UConn remain firmly among the nation’s elite public research universities. They include Bioscience Connecticut, Next Generation Connecticut, and the development of the UConn Tech Park at the Storrs campus.
The University also recently opened its new 727-bed NextGen Hall; a new Engineering and Science academic complex is scheduled for completion in 2017; and the Greater Hartford campus will return next year to downtown Hartford.
While UConn officials say they are very happy with the U.S. News ranking, they emphasize the importance of other factors that help define a high-quality institution. These include ensuring affordability and career-relevant educational offerings for students; prioritizing research and innovation; fostering statewide economic development; promoting environmentally conscious academics and practices; and many other factors.
UConn was one of 173 national public universities ranked as part of this year’s U.S. News survey, which can be found at: http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges.