April 9-22, 2004
Vol. 34, Issue 7
Back Issues
IN THIS ISSUE
Pituitary Center brings life-changing treatment to thousands
Medical School breaks top 25
Student health insurance plan
Headlines @ U.Va.
U.Va. marks the 261st birthday of its founder — Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals in Architecture an Law
Aerospace institute becoming a reality in Hampton
Online applications aid admissions process
Fatton: No ray of hope for native Haiti
Grossman enters new world of responsibility
Women’s Center to honor Arizona’s trailblazing Gov. Janet Napolitano
Artist explores DNA and difference in
‘ Jefferson Suites’
Nobel Prize-winning poet
Seamus Heaney to read April 19
Roaming Rome, Wylie focuses on material and light

Medical School breaks top 25
U.Va. graduate schools hold their
own in latest U.S. News rankings

Staff Report

At a time when fiscal and budgetary uncertainty is the norm in public higher education, five of the University’s graduate schools continue to be ranked among the best in the nation, by the latest U.S. News & World Report annual rankings of graduate schools and programs, which were released April 2.

While there were no significant changes overall, four U.Va. schools landed in the top 25 — including, for the first time, the School of Medicine, which moved up two notches to No. 25. The Law School, consistently ranked in the top 10, was ninth for the second year in a row. The Darden School moved from 11 to 12, the Curry School from 21 to 20, and the School of Engineering from 38 to 42.

Recently, many in academic circles have criticized the much-anticipated and highly publicized rankings, believing them to be an artificial measure of success, and arguing that too much emphasis has been placed on them by potential applicants. Several years ago, the love-hate relationship with the rankings spurred some in academia to launch an alternative ranking system, but it failed to gain momentum.

Law School dean John C. Jeffries calls the emphasis on rankings regrettable. “For certain technical reasons, the U.S. News rankings are tough on public universities, but more fundamentally the business of ranking is misguided. If I grade the papers in a class or seminar and identify a group of superior performers, I give them all A’s. That’s a reasonable way to describe the results of the exam,” Jeffries said. “If I had to rank them numerically, very small — indeed, insignificant — differences in performance are translated into very large differences in rank. In short, rankings are good for publicity, but not for decisions.”

That said, when a school shows well in the rankings, deans and faculty are often pleased, knowing that the rankings draw attention to an institution and can enhance its reputation in the eyes of prospective students, donors and academic peers.

At the School of Medicine, Dr. Arthur “Tim” Garson Jr., vice president and dean, saw reason to celebrate the news and credited the dedication of his faculty and staff. “Through their efforts we have moved into the ranks of the top 25 research schools for the first time.”

Gordon F. Rainey Jr., the University’s rector, views the rankings as good news, and like Garson, said he believes that University employees deserve high praise. “The consistently high rankings achieved by our graduate schools are a tribute to the hard work of all members of the U.Va. community,” he said. “Their commitment ensures the superior quality of the University’s educational experience.”

While U.S. News does not rank every graduate school or graduate program every year, the University also had several areas of excellence recognized. The Law School’s international law program was ranked No. 7, as was the Darden School’s management program. The Curry School’s special education program came in at No. 4, its secondary education program at No. 10. The School of Medicine ranked No. 31 in primary care programs.

In August, U.Va. was ranked the No. 1 public university (in a tie with the University of California-Berkeley), and No. 21 among all universities in the U.S. News’ annual rankings of America’s Best Colleges.

Additional rankings are available online at the 2005 edition of U.S. News’ “America’s Best Graduate Schools” Web site at www.usnews.com.


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