Capitol news bureau
September 18, 2012
LSU’s ranking among the top universities in the country fell for the second year in a row in the U.S. News & World Report’s prominent “Best Colleges 2013” list released Wednesday.
Interim LSU President and Chancellor William Jenkins called the school’s six-spot tumble from 128th last year to 134th this year “clearly disappointing.” He noted, however, that it was the fifth straight year LSU was listed among the top tier of national universities.
Louisiana Tech University, the only other public college in Louisiana to be ranked as a Tier One school, dropped into a six-school tie for 199th, or last place on the “Best National Universities” list. Louisiana Tech first made it onto the Tier One list last year with a 194th ranking.
Louisiana Tech President Dan Reneau said in a prepared statement: “Achieving and maintaining a Tier One National University ranking from U.S. News & World Report is an acknowledgment of the tireless efforts and dedication of our faculty and staff.”
Southern University and A&M College, whose rank was not published, was in Tier Two of regional universities. Southern University was left off the list of the “Best Black Colleges” for the second year in a row, just three years after being ranked 29th, its highest ranking in the six years U.S. News has ranked historically black colleges and universities.
Rankings of other Louisiana colleges include:
- Nicholls State University ranked 95 in the regional university category.
- Southeastern Louisiana University’s ranking was not published but was considered Tier Two in the regional university category.
- Tulane University ranked at 51 in the national university category.
- University of Louisiana Lafayette’s ranking was not published but was considered Tier Two in the national university category.
- University of New Orleans’ ranking was not published but was considered Tier Two in the national university category.
The national university category includes schools that offer a full range of undergraduate majors and graduate programs, according to U.S. News. The colleges also produce “groundbreaking research.”
Regional universities offer a full range of undergraduate programs and some master’s programs but few doctoral programs, according to U.S. News.
Jenkins said LSU’s drop to 134 from 128 in 2011 was “somewhat expected” as the number of faculty has decreased and student-teacher ratios have swollen from an optimal 20:1 level to about 23:1.
LSU, like all of Louisiana’s other public colleges, has been feeling squeezed since 2008 as the state has chopped $425 million in funding out of two-year and four-year college coffers to balance the state budget.
State schools lost $66 million in funding for the fiscal year that started July 1. LSU’s share of that budget cut was about $19 million.
“There are parts of the ranking that we have no control of, but we can make up the difference through innovation and determination,” Jenkins said.
He added, “We recognize where we didn’t perform well and where our needs are. We have to find ways to fund this enterprise so we can invest in those areas.”
Southern University Chancellor James Llorens did not respond to a request for an interview Wednesday afternoon.
In the past, Llorens said Southern deserves to rank in the top tier of black colleges. He’s also acknowledged that state budget cuts and student enrollment losses have damaged the school. Southern lost $6 million in state funding this fiscal year.
The U.S. News rankings are arguably the nation’s most prominent and controversial college rankings. College administrators, however, generally agree the rankings matter because of their role in shaping public perception.
The oft-debated methodology for the annual listing examines factors including SAT scores, graduation rates, alumni giving and the often controversial peer reputation category.
Each factor is assigned a value which leads to each college’s composite weighted score, which is then ranked against peer institutions.
According to U.S. News, 92 percent of the 1,391 colleges were considered in the rankings.