BGSU setting sights on rising in U.S. News college rankings

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

Bowling Green State University continues to hover just above the 100 mark for the Top Public National Universities by U.S. News and World Report.

That’s down a bit from last year, when BGSU was 101 in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges”, and lower on the list than President Mary Ellen Mazey would like to be.

“There’s always room for improvement,” she said. Still she said she was pleased.

The ranking puts BGSU in the top tier of national public universities, along with three of its sister Ohio institutions – Miami, Ohio University and Kent State.

BGSU placed 194th on the overall National University list. The top 20 schools there are all private institutions, Mazey said, with large endowments. “We do compete with them,” she said. She feels BGSU holds its own, probably because of cost. The university was ranked 184th in the Best Undergraduate Business Programs category.

Some do question the value of the rankings. “There’s a debate about it,” Mazey said. “I know some of my predecessors here didn’t put as much emphasis on it. But our parents and students look at these rankings, so therefore I think it’s important.”

BGSU has been in the 90s and lower 100s for a number of years. Mazey said she was impressed with BGSU’s 92nd ranking when she arrived in 2011.

“If you place an emphasis, you can move,” she said. “But then again, everyone’s trying to do that. It’s a very competitive environment. We’re going to have a greater emphasis on it this year.”

The rankings are based on perceptions of administrators at other top universities, and high school guidance counselors.

But looming larger are other factors. Most of those the university has already been working on.

Student graduation rates, either in four or six years, count for 20 percent of the score.

Attracting top quality students also is an important factor and has been an emphasis in recruiting. This fall the university boasted the best academically prepared freshman class in its history.

Faculty salary and degrees, and student-faculty ratio all play a part; as do the number of small classes under 20 students, and large classes over 50.

Mazey said BGSU has relatively few large sections, and she said she wants an administrator to look at the data for small classes to make sure the university is submitting the correct data.

Alumni giving is a another relatively minor factor. Seven percent of BGSU alumni give money to the school. That compares to 21 percent for Miami and 4 percent for Kent.

University initiatives in all these areas have been underway for several years, and were the focus of Mazey’s State of the University address early this month.

“I think about this over and over and over,” she said. “My only goal is to make BGSU better, and this is part of it.”

 

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