Education

University of Iowa slips again in rankings, this time in graduate college standings

Iowa State, meanwhile, sees improvement

The Old Capitol building is shown in Iowa City on Monday, March 30, 2015. (The Gazette)
The Old Capitol building is shown in Iowa City on Monday, March 30, 2015. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa’s national standing is continuing to slip, now at the graduate level, according to new U.S. News & World Report rankings published Tuesday.

The national publication — widely touted in higher education circles and often referenced by prospective students and families — annually ranks college and university professional schools in business, education, engineering, law, medicine and nursing.

As for the UI showing in its new 2020 rankings, only the College of Law held steady at No. 27 — although it’s down from No. 20 two years ago.

The UI Carver College of Medicine, in primary care, ranked No. 26, down from No. 21 last year; the College of Medicine, in research, ranked No. 38, down from No. 32; the College of Education ranked No. 50, down from No. 40; and the College of Engineering ranked No. 73, down from No. 69.

The UI Tippie College of Business’s full-time Master of Business Administration program was ranked No. 64 two years ago, but the university phased out that program in 2017 because of low enrollment. Its part-time MBA program is tied for No. 22.

The UI College of Nursing was ranked No. 23 two years ago and No. 27 last year, but U.S. News changed its methodology and no longer ranks nursing colleges overall.

The graduate program losses mirror UI ranking dips at the undergraduate level, which administrators have tied to decreases in state support. After improving from No. 33 to No. 31 among public universities, UI dropped to No. 38 in the 2019 undergraduate rankings released in September.

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Having climbed four spots to No. 78 among all national universities — including public and private institutions — UI dropped to No. 89 in the U.S. News fall report.

UI President Bruce Harreld has noted the Legislature’s repeated cuts to higher education funding when comparing his institution with better-supported peers that are rising in the rankings.

Lawmakers since the start of the 2017 budget year have cut Board of Regents general education support by $35 million — although the governor this year has proposed restoring some of that by fulfilling the full regent request of $18 million for the next budget year.

Still, the cuts to date prompted Harreld to freeze faculty pay for a period, halt new campus construction for five months, end some scholarship programs and close several centers.

The UI, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa also upped tuition in the fall — as ISU’s undergraduate ranking slipped from No. 53 to No. 56 among public schools and from No. 115 to No. 119 overall. UNI is not ranked nationally overall or among public universities.

And although Iowa State saw similar drops in its undergraduate rankings, its graduate school showing this week tells a different story. Instead of losses, Iowa State reported gains — big ones, in some cases.

Its MBA program tied for No. 47 overall, up from No. 79 last year. That program tied for No. 23 among public universities, up from No. 43 last year. ISU’s College of Education ranked No. 78, up from No. 89; and its College of Engineering tied for No. 41, up from No. 43.

U.S. News doesn’t rank every program every year, but Iowa State reported its College of Veterinary Medicine tied for No. 11 among public universities. Its College of Engineering boasted 10 programs in the top 25, including ISU’s agricultural and biosystems engineering graduate program, which reclaimed the top spot after slipping from No. 1 to No. 2 last year.

In the new rankings, it’s tied for No. 1 with Purdue University.

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“We are thrilled to be back at No. 1,” Steven Mickelson, the department’s chair, said in a statement. “I give a lot of the credit to our new facilities and also to the new research facilities we’re developing at the BioCentury Research Farm, the Agricultural Engineering/Agronomy Research Farm and the new Feed Mill and Grain Science Complex that will be going up.”

The UI, overall, had 60 graduate colleges and programs ranked by U.S. News’ 2020 report. Among those, 11 were in the top 10, including its No. 1 ranked speech-language pathology and physician assistant programs.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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