Iowa State ranked 46th best public university

Thaddeus Mast

Out of more than 280 colleges and universities, Iowa State has been ranked as the 46th top public university, according to the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings,

While this overall score shows Iowa State’s stature, the seven individual indicators that are used to determine these ranks are more telling of the university’s strengths and weaknesses. John McCarroll, executive director of university relations, gave an explanation of where Iowa State improved.

“We’re very pleased to see that our ‘alumni giving’ showed upward movement and our ‘undergraduate education reputation’ continues to move up,” McCarroll said. “That’s encouraging because we take great pride in the fact that we provide superior undergraduate education, not just on the academic side but the total student experience.”

Two other indicators, “graduation and retention” and “graduation rate performance,” stayed the same. The other three, “financial resources,” “faculty resources” and “student selectivity,” lost some ground compared to last year. Jonathan Wickert, senior vice president and provost, explained why financial resources decreased.

“One of the indicators the U.S. News & World Report has is actually the amount of spending per student for the education,” Wickert said. “That has always surprised me. … That’s a measure they use in the ranking system. We actually would have ranked higher if our costs were higher.”

State budget cuts and state funding reductions over the past two years are also a contributor to the lower indicators. “Student selectivity,” however, may not be something to strive for.

“That’s one of those criterion that does not benefit us but is something that we believe we’re doing right. We believe we are accepting students that are qualified, and we want to accept all students who are qualified,” McCarroll said. “That’s one part of this ranking that we simply have to accept as not helping us.”

No matter what the ranking is, it is not the only thing to look at when looking at Iowa State, Wickert said.

“The ranking is a validation that we’re continuing to do the right things; that we’re focusing on being as great a university as we can and providing students with a great education and one that’s very affordable at the same time,” Wickert said. “It’s always nice to be ranked well, but we don’t run the university chasing after rankings. We want to be the best Iowa State that we can, and when we’re doing all the right things on campus, the rankings just naturally come along.”

“Really, what I’m most proud of is not the U.S. News & World Report ranking, but the great work that our faculty does, and I’m very proud of the outstanding students that come to Iowa State,” Wickert said.

With 84 new faculty members and 450 new class sections this year to accompany the largest class ever, Iowa State may move up in the ranks next year.

The ranking only takes into account undergraduate programs at Iowa State.