U.S. News rates Emory #19, error in teaching assistant reports

Emory was ranked 19th overall in the national university category of this year's U.S. News & World Report annual college quality rankings, and the Goizueta Business School undergraduate program was ranked in an eight-way tie for 24th place among top business schools. Emory was ranked 10th among national universities in the category of "best value-discount price."

An article on the rankings in the Sept. 6 issue of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which stated Emory had the third highest percentage of undergraduate classes taught by teaching assistants (TAs) rather than professors, shocked Emory administrators. "For years, we had been telling parents and prospective students that about 10 percent of Emory College courses were taught by TAs," said Dan Walls, dean of admissions. This report prompted a check of the data that Emory submitted to US. News, and it turned out that an error had been made. Emory reported the number of sections of undergraduate classes taught per semester, 1,213, and the number of TAs for the academic year, 280, giving a ratio of 23 percent of classes taught by TAs. The correct number of TAs per semester was 140, giving a ratio of 11.5 percent.

However, that particular statistic was not used to compute Emory's rankings in the survey's overall components. Those rankings were: 30th in academic reputation (32 in '95), 22nd in student selectivity (26 in '95), 20th in faculty resources (16 in '95), 17th in overall financial resources (15 in '95), 12th in retention rank(15 in '95) and 37th in alumni giving rank (40 in '95).

President Bill Chace said he looks at this ranking process with some suspicion. "There are many wonderful universities that offer a first-rate education to their students," said Chace. "These rankings don't measure the relationship of a given student to a given institution. Emory has a fine faculty and offers a fine education for its students, as do many other universities. When you get to the level where we are, fractions of percentage points separate institutions, and I don't think that fine of a distinction can be made."

U.S. News arrives at its rankings in the national university category by combining statistical data with the results of an academic reputation survey of 2,730 college presidents, deans and admissions directors. This year for the first time, U.S. News factored into the rankings a calculation the magazine designed to represent the educational value a school adds between freshman orientation and graduation. The measure focused on the difference between a school's predicted graduation rate--based on the median entrance exam scores of a school's entering students--and its educational expenditures per student in relation to its graduation rate. Emory exceeded its predicted graduation rate by 8 percent, which was the fourth highest exceed rate.

The ranking of the undergraduate business programs was based on a reputational survey of business school deans and administrators. The best value-discount price ranking relates the cost of attending an institution to its quality by factoring in variables such as the percentage of undergraduates receiving grants to meet financial needs, the percentage of a school's total costs covered by grants, and the percentage of undergraduates receiving awards that exceed their financial needs.

There was little movement among the schools ranked as the top 25 national universities, with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill replacing Carnegie Mellon University on the list. Emory's ranking in 1995 was 17; this year the University of Notre Dame and Washington University moved ahead of Emory in the rankings, but only by the slimmest of margins--one-tenth of a point. Emory has been on the top 25 list since 1992 and is the only Georgia university ever to appear on the list.

The quality rankings will appear in the Sept. 16 issue of U.S. News. U.S. News Online has published the Best Colleges rankings on the web at <http://www.usnews.com/usnews/fair/>.

--Jan Gleason

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