Aug. 17, 2007
By Sally Linder
Ohio University ranks fourth in the nation among major universities for a key indicator of student success.
According to U.S. News & World Report's annual guide to colleges released today, Ohio University's graduation rate performance was fourth out of 257 ranked national universities and a full 18 percent higher than predicted. This is the third year in a row the university has made it into the top 10 in this category.
The magazine plugs years of data from hundreds of schools into a sophisticated model to forecast what graduation rate an institution should expect. The model controls for such factors as entering student characteristics and institutional expenditures per student.
U.S. News predicted that Ohio University's graduation rate should have been 53 percent; instead, it was 71 percent.
"A measure like this tells you that our students are much more successful than comparable students at comparable schools," said Joe Brennan, executive director of communications and marketing, and co-author of a forthcoming research paper on college rankings. "It is a direct indicator that we are doing better than almost any university in the nation at helping our students achieve their promise."
Brennan credits Ohio University's dedication to exceptional undergraduate education for its ability to beat the odds.
"Ohio's graduation rate performance is so far above the predicted rate because of many things we do well here, but the most significant factor is the human factor," he said. "I credit the talented faculty members who work closely with students to ensure their success. We have an exceptional staff. We have innovators who took an early lead in undergraduate research and applied learning. This also shows that our students are very dedicated to their studies."
In the overall U.S. News rankings, Ohio University held its relative position from last year, tying at 112 with five other institutions -- Florida State University, Loyola University Chicago, University of Dayton, University of South Carolina Columbia and University of Oregon. (Ohio University ranked 110th last year, but because of ties this year, rankings skipped from 108 to 112.)
Among 164 national public universities, Ohio University's ranking stayed the same. It placed 52nd nationally and third in the state, following Ohio State University and Miami University.
Ohio University remained about the same as last year in other ranking categories (such as peer assessment, retention, student-faculty ratio, freshman acceptance rate and financial resources), trending up or down somewhat but not enough to be statistically significant.
"The university position in the overall and state rankings was about what we expected," said Mike Williford, associate provost for institutional research. "We did well in other measures they use, such as alumni giving and the freshman acceptance rate. Add those to our high graduation rate performance, and the university held its own in the rankings."
Williford also noted that Ohio University took the lead among the three Ohio top-tier universities on other important quantitative measures. For instance, 44 percent of Ohio University classes had fewer than 20 students compared with 35 percent at both Miami and Ohio State. And 84 percent of Miami University faculty members were full time compared with 90 percent at Ohio University, which tied with Ohio State on that measure.
To arrive at its rankings, U.S News & World Report calculates a score for each school using 15 variables, such as retention rates, faculty resources, surveys of peer-institution administrators, admission selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving and graduation rate performance.
To see complete rankings, go to www.usnews.com.