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Three UF graduate programs improve in rankings; one college falls

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Posted: Monday, March 31, 2008 12:00 am

Several of UF's graduate programs have moved up in this year's U.S. News and World Report rankings, but deans of those colleges said looming budget cuts could hurt next year's standings.

The report, which was released Friday, showed three UF colleges have advanced. The report ranks more than 1,200 public and private graduate programs nationwide based on expert opinion and statistics.

The Levin College of Law, the College of Engineering and the Warrington College of Business moved up one, two and three slots, respectively.

UF's College of Engineering is tied for the 24th spot with the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and the University of Washington. Massachusetts Institute of Technology's program took the No. 1 spot.

U.S. News and World Report has released its rankings of more than 1,200 graduate programs across the country based on expert opinion and statistics. Here's how UF fared this year:

  • College of Business - 34th
  • College of Law - 46th
  • College of Engineering - 24th
  • College of Education - 53rd
  • College of Medicine - 48th

Pramod Khargonekar, dean of the College of Engineering, said he was pleased with this year's jump from 26th to 24th, but he said the rankings aren't exactly indicative of UF's progress.

"We think our quality is actually better than the rankings," Khargonekar said.

He added it would be hard to predict how decreased Legislative funding due to state revenue shortfalls could affect the program's future ranking, but he said the college's quality would be at risk.

"Whenever resources get tight, there is always an impact on the quality of the programs," he said.

The Warrington College of Business made the biggest improvement, moving from 37th to 34th, tying with Boston College, the University of Washington and the University of Notre Dame. Harvard and Stanford universities tied for first.

John Kraft, dean of UF's Warrington College of Business, said though the college's ranking has continued to improve over the past few years, students' starting salaries hold it back.

Kraft said about 85 percent of the college's graduates take jobs in Florida, which don't pay as well as companies in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles. Still, the ranking is good news, he added.

"There's over 1,000 business programs nationally, so anytime you're in something in the top 50, I think it's a real plus," he said.

He said budget cuts would have some negative impact on the program.

But administrators would have to learn to adjust, including finding new revenue sources to compensate for the loss of state funds, he said.

Ultimately, the program needs to encourage students to look for jobs in higher-paying states, he said.

Bruce Kone, dean for UF's College of Medicine, said an increase in state funding would dramatically improve UF's medical program, but he's not sure that's something the college can rely on.

The College of Medicine maintained its ranking from last year, tying for 48th with the University of California-Davis.

Harvard University ranked first.

"I have mixed feelings about it (the ranking)," Kone said. "We're obviously lobbying the state Legislature very, very hard for funding for the medical school."

UF's Levin College of Law moved from 47th to 46th, and UF's College of Education, ranked 44th last year, moved to 53rd.

Robert Jerry, dean of UF's Levin College of Law, and Catherine Emihovich, dean of the College of Education, could not be reached for comment.

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