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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

UF maintains No. 17 spot in national rankings of public universities

In a year of shrinking state funds, UF President Bernie Machen is pleased to see two numbers stay the same: 49 and 17.

UF remains No. 49 of top national universities and No. 17 for top public universities in U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges 2009 edition released Friday.

UF was ranked No. 13 in the 2007 list of top public universities but dropped four spots in the 2008 edition.

The only other Florida school to make the top public university list this year, Florida State University, is tied at No. 50 with the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Machen's long-touted goal of making UF a top 10 public university seemed less plausible this year with more than $47 million cut from its budget, which forced about 70 faculty and staff layoffs.

"Some people around here were talking that way," Machen said in a telephone interview. "But I knew we had gotten better in some things, so I wasn't that worried that we'd go down."

Robert Morse, director of data research at U.S. News & World Report, said UF's budget cuts would likely hurt its ranking in the 2010 edition of the rankings because data used for the latest edition was from the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007.

For UF to move up, Morse said it would need to improve in several areas to jump ahead of a few schools.

"The higher up you get, the harder it is to rise," he said.

Machen said UF is strong enough to advance, but the ranking system adds weight to faculty resources - an area "where we're weak."

In July, Machen announced the first raise n two years for faculty and staff to help employees deal with higher costs of living.

The $11 million plan, which goes into effect Sept. 19, will award merit-based raises to some of UF's 5,400 faculty members and an across-the-board 2 percent or $600 raise - whichever is more - to more than 8,300 staff members.

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Earlier this month, ranked UF No. 167 among all undergraduate schools and No. 16 for top public universities in the magazine's first-ever list of America's Best Colleges.

Forbes said its rankings, which came out earlier than those by U.S. News & World Report, were formed using databases and surveys unaffiliated with any of the schools. Forbes also counted academic award recipients per school and student reviews on

Morse said the methodologies for both systems are so different there is no comparison. Machen said it would be a few years before the rankings on the Forbes list seemed right.

Machen said there is "something wacko" if the University of Michigan is ranked No. 26 on the U.S. News list for top national universities but ranked by Forbes a few spots above UF at No. 161.

To join the ranks of the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Virginia, which are No.1 and No. 2 on the public universities rankings, Machen said UF needs the Florida Legislature to give him what UF needs most: more money.

Until that happens, Machen said the dream won't die because the Board of Trustees, UF's highest governing body, has clearly set cracking the top 10 as a goal.

"We pay attention to rankings," Machen said, "because parents and students do, and it really is a form of measurement."

Morse agrees.

"People are hungry for sources of information that judge the relative merits of schools," he said. "And it's an easy way to do that."

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