ISU graduate education, business programs rankings fall

Jennifer Nacin

Two ISU graduate programs have dropped in their overall national ranking, according to a U.S. News & World Report study, but ISU officials said it was no cause for alarm.

According to the study, the ISU graduate business program dropped from 67th to 74th, and the graduate education program declined from 69th to 73rd in the national rankings. The ISU graduate engineering program improved this year, going from 46th to 43rd.

Anthony Hendrickson, associate dean of the College of Business, said looking at the overall trend of the rankings is more important than looking at the actual slide in rank this year. He said the graduate business program entered the rankings in 1996 when it was ranked 99th, so it has seen an improved upward trend overall.

Ronald Ackerman, program coordinator for the graduate business program, said Iowa State is ranked among business schools that have been around for 50 to 75 years — much longer than Iowa State’s program.

“We’ve been around for 20 years, and we’ve been consistently ranked in the top 75 for the last few years,” Ackerman said. “So we are in a solid top 100 position now among the MBA programs. That is something we can be very proud of in terms of where the Iowa State MBA program has been in such a short amount of time.”

Ann Thompson, interim associate dean for research and graduate education of the College of Education, said although the overall ranking of the graduate program dropped, it is nothing for the college to be too concerned about.

“It’s not statistically a significant drop, but it’s not as though we don’t pay attention to it,” Thompson said. “We are pleased to be in the top 100 in the country, and we will continually work to improve that ranking.”

She said the study results are based on a number of factors, including faculty-to-student ratios, graduate program selectivity, graduate record scores, research funding and the visibility and academic reputation of the dean among school superintendents across the country.

“If you have a dean who is well-respected and known, it is more likely that your program will receive a higher ranking,” Thompson said. He said when former College of Education dean Walter Gmelch accepted the dean position at the University of San Francisco’s School of Education, it caused the College of Education to lose the benefit of having a well-known dean within educational circles.

John Schuh, distinguished professor and chairman of educational leadership and policy studies, said College of Education Interim Dean Jerry Thomas is less known in educational circles because of his discipline in health and human performance, which likely affected ISU rankings.

“This year our college has a new interim dean, who has done a phenomenal job in my opinion,” Schuh said. “He replaced a dean that was very prominent in education circles. From an operational point of view, our college has done just as well this year under Jerry Thomas as it did last year under Walter Gmelch.”

Schuh said even though the ranking has dropped, the program is one of the best in the country. He said one of the graduate education programs — higher education administration — actually rose in its ranking from 20th to 18th.

“These are the rankings of the very top programs in the country,” Schuh said. “I think it’s very important to emphasize that there are so many of these programs, and to be ranked consistently means you are at the top of the list of world-class universities.”

ISU officials said they are not concerned if the drop in rankings will affect student, faculty or staff retention and recruitment. They also said it will not affect academic funding or donations.