Baylor's Engineering Program Highly Rated In U.S. News 'Best Colleges' Survey
by Alan Hunt
Baylor University's engineering program climbed impressively to rank as the nation's 14th best in the 2005 edition of America's Best Colleges, compiled by U.S.News & World Report. This is up five spots over last year when Baylor's program was ranked 19th, and an increase of 12 places over 2001, when Baylor ranked 26th in the prestigious U.S. News listing of undergraduate engineering courses without doctoral programs.
Baylor is ranked highest of the four Texas schools included in the survey, which is confined to 145 programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Baylor is tied at 14th nationwide with five other schools.
"I am very pleased that we have moved up five places in the rankings," said Dr. Benjamin S. Kelley, dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science and professor of engineering. "It is an excellent recognition of our accomplishments and a fine tribute to the initiative of our faculty, students and staff. We are looking forward to even greater accomplishments and to continued national recognition of our faculty and students."
Baylor's undergraduate business program at the Hankamer School of Business also is ranked by the U.S.News & World Report, which places it tied with 11 other schools at 77th place among the 375 undergraduate business programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business included in the survey.
Also highly ranked is Hankamer's entrepreneurship program, which is rated by U.S. News at 10th best program in the nation. The Hankamer School of Business, which was among the first schools in the nation to offer an entrepreneurship program in 1977, is tied with New York University (Stern) for 10th spot in the rankings.
U.S. News says its engineering and business school rankings are based solely on the judgments of deans and senior faculty who rated each program they are familiar with on a scale from 1 (marginal) to 5 (distinguished). Baylor's undergraduate engineering program garnered a peer assessment score of 3.2, up from a score of 3.1 last year, and the Hankamer School of Business received a score of 2.8.
Overall, the U.S. News Best Colleges survey places Baylor 84th out of 248 top national doctoral-granting universities included in the rankings. This means Baylor fell back slightly from 78th spot last year, although the differential between 74th place and 84th place in this year's rankings reflects only a two point difference in the overall score. A total of 12 schools are grouped together between the list's 74th and 84th spots with overall scores ranging from 48 to 46. Baylor's overall score is 46.
"With Baylor attracting increasing national attention, and in a competitive marketplace of higher education in which nobody stands still, we are likely to see some fluctuation, year by year, in our public rankings," said Provost David Lyle Jeffrey. "In part this occurs because of the largely subjective elements in the ranking process, and the general tendency for academic improvements to take some years to be noticed. Other factors, extrinsic to academic performance, can also influence the rankings. Nevertheless, we can expect, over time, to see our progress recognized more widely as we implement various elements of Baylor 2012."
U.S. News said the ranking formula for its "Best National Universities" survey relies on several factors, including up to 15 "indicators of academic excellence" it gathers from each school; assessment by administrators at peer institutions; retention of students; faculty resources; student selectivity; financial resources; alumni giving; class size; student/faculty ratio; and graduation rate performance.
In the "classes under 20" category of the survey, Baylor is credited with 37 percent - a jump of one percentage point over last year - and "classes of 50 or more" is listed at 11 percent, which is a one percentage point reduction over last year's figure. Baylor's academic reputation (peer assessment) score is listed as 3.2 out of a possible 5.0, and the average freshman retention rate is 84 percent. The number of faculty who are full time is listed at 94 percent, and Baylor's average alumni giving rate is 25 percent. Thirty-eight percent of Baylor freshmen were in the top 10 percent of their high school class, according to the survey.
The ranking puts Baylor tied for fourth position among Big 12 schools included in the rankings and in fifth place among the 16 Texas universities listed. Baylor is tied for the 84th spot with Iowa State University, another Big 12 school.
The first 129 universities are ranked numerically in the survey of doctoral-granting universities. The others are listed alphabetically in third and fourth tier categories. Two Texas universities are included in the third tier, and eight in the fourth tier. Of the 248 schools in this year's survey, 86 are private and 162 public.
Other Texas schools highly placed in the rankings include Rice University (17th place), University of Texas-Austin (tied for 46th), Texas A&M University (tied for 62nd) and Southern Methodist University (tied for 71st). Texas Christian University is tied for 98th place.
Several of Baylor's graduate programs also were highly ranked in the 2005 Best Graduate Schools rankings released earlier this year by U.S. News & World Report. Included in the magazine's "top" categories were Baylor's law, business, nursing, education, clinical psychology, speech-language pathology, social work and other health-related programs, including the two Baylor-U.S. Army programs operated at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.
The U.S. News rankings can be found at www.USNews.com. The "America's Best College" newsstand book and the weekly edition of U.S. News & World Report magazine (containing many of the rankings) will both go on sale Monday, Aug. 23.