UB Improves Performance in Major Factors Used to Rank Nation's Top Research Universities

By Arthur Page

Release Date: September 7, 2001 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo ranks among the top 26-50 public and private research universities in the country in a new data-based report by a University of Florida research center.

UB posted improvement in six of the nine measures of performance for which accurate and valid data were available and that "reflect quality of research university performance," according to "The Top American Research Universities," the annual report charting the comparative performance of research institutions by TheCenter at the University of Florida.

The study does not produce a single ranked list of the top institutions, the report says, because "the difference separating these top universities is not sufficiently great to justify making a single, rank-ordered list."

UB Provost Elizabeth D. Capaldi noted that UB is "making strides in our quest to become a world-class university, as indicated by our improvement.

"We are especially pleased by our gains in total research expenditures and federal research expenditures -- critical indicators of competitiveness for a major research university -- as well as improvements in private support, faculty quality and advanced training."

In compiling the report -- developed as an alternative to what many in the academic community consider to be the flawed rankings of colleges and universities by such entities as U.S. News and World Report -- researchers at TheCenter categorized major research universities into groups based on their performance on the nine measures. Major research universities were defined as those with more than $20 million in annual federal research expenditures in 1999.

The measures are total research expenditures; federal research expenditures; endowment assets; annual giving; the number of faculty members in the National Academies - the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institutes of Medicine; faculty awards; the number of doctoral degrees awarded; the number of postdoctoral appointees, and the SAT scores of entering freshmen.

Institutions in the top group rank among the nation's top 25 institutions on all nine measures. Those in the second group rank in the top 25 on eight measures, and so on. A similar methodology was used to categorize institutions that ranked 26-50 on the same nine measures.

UB scored in the 26-50 range on three of the nine measures of performance: total research expenditures, with a national rank of 50, up from last year's rank of 53; faculty awards, with a national rank of 39, up from 50 last year, and number of doctorates awarded, with a national rank of 40, up from 47 last year.

Although not scoring in the 26-50 range, UB posted improvements in its national ranking on three other measures. The university increased its ranking on federal research expenditures (up to 59 from 64 last year), annual giving (up to 148 from 207 last year) and postdoctoral appointees (up to 52 from 55 last year).

When compared only to other public research institutions -- its control rank -- UB scored in the top 25 on one measure: faculty awards, with a rank of 22, up from 29 last year. The university was in the top 26-50 on six measures: total research expenditures (control rank of 32, up from 35 last year); federal research expenditures (control rank of 35, up from 39); endowment assets (control rank of 26); National Academy members (control rank of 50); doctorates granted (control rank of 27, up from 33 last year), and postdoctoral appointees (control rank of 29, up from 32).

UB showed declines in both the national and control rankings on only three measures. Although the university posted an increase in its endowment assets from $438,002,000 in 1999 to $447,322,000 in 2000, other universities outpaced in their endowment growth, causing UB to slip in the national rankings from 85 to 95 and in the control rankings from 24 to 26.

Moreover, while the number of UB faculty members who are National Academy members remained unchanged, other universities saw increases in their memberships, resulting in a drop for UB's national ranking from 81 to 83 and in its control ranking from 48 to 50.

In addition, the SAT scores of UB's entering freshmen had decreased from 1120 in 1998 to 1110 in 1999. As a result, the university's ranking on this measure slipped from 344 to 377 nationally and 76 to 86 in the control rankings.

However, the SAT scores of UB freshmen have improved in the succeeding years and the median score climbed back to 1120 for 2000, according to UB's Office of Institutional Analysis.