Friday, August 20, 1999

University of Hawaii

UH ranking drops
despite improvements
over last year

A national magazine listed
228 universities and
UH was 152nd

By Helen Altonn


The University of Hawaii has dropped from 98th place to 152nd in this year's rankings of the nation's best colleges by U.S. News & World Report.

The 228 national universities are listed in four tiers. Last year UH was in the second tier; this year it's in the third.

The slippage in the annual rankings of research universities is the latest in a series of problems rattling UH, which is suffering from budget cuts, low morale and criticism from an accreditation team.

But the reasons for the slide in university rankings aren't clear, said UH spokesman Jim Manke.

"We are somewhat puzzled because basically our numbers are virtually the same as last year in almost all categories, or even better," he said.

For example, he said SAT scores for incoming students increased this year to a range of 990 to 1210 from 970 to 1170 last year.

The portion of incoming students who were in the top 10 percent of their classes increased from 30 percent to 32 percent.

And the university's acceptance rate narrowed from 69 percent last year to 67 percent this year, "which shows we're being a little more selective," Manke said.

He also pointed to an increase from 10 percent to 14 percent in alumni giving.

"Our academic reputation _ the category they give the most weight to -- is identical to last year," Manke said.

On the down side, a drop occurred in the number of classes of fewer than 20 students -- from 54 percent to 52 percent -- and fulltime faculty decreased from 93 percent to 92 percent.

Manke noted an article in The Chronicle Daily News about the California Institute of Technology leaping eight notches over Harvard, Princeton and Yale Universities to claim the No. 1 spot in this year's rankings.

It points out that the methodology used to rank the universities changes every year "and we're not always sure what these things mean," Manke said.

The magazine names the best colleges every year to give students and parents some idea of their strengths and weaknesses.

The schools are assigned to groupings developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, which classifies them by their mission.

"Certainly, it's something to look at," Manke said. But even the magazine points out that it should be only one source of information, he pointed out.

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