Brown holds steady at No. 15 in annual U.S. News rankings

Princeton Review deems Brunonians 'Happiest Students' in the nation

For the second consecutive year, Brown claimed the No. 15 spot in U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of “America’s Best Colleges,” placing the University behind all other Ivy League schools. Princeton University took the top spot in the highly publicized annual evaluation, which takes into account factors ranging from peer assessment to standardized test scores.

Though the University did not improve its position in the eyes of U.S. News, the Princeton Review placed Brunonians atop its list of “Happiest Students” in its 2007 edition of “The Best 361 Colleges.” Brown moved up from No. 3 last year to edge out Princeton for the top spot.

Brown also moved up in the Princeton Review’s “The Toughest to Get Into” category, climbing to No. 4 from No. 10 last year. On the list of schools with the “Best College Radio Station,” Brown moved up to No. 7 from No. 9.

Each school’s overall score in the U.S. News rankings is a composite of 15 different factors. Brown’s overall score of 85 was only four points behind Columbia University, Dartmouth College and the University of Chicago, which finished in a three-way tie for the No. 9 position.

Dean of Admission Jim Miller ’73 expressed satisfaction with Brown’s performance.

“It is our sense that prospective students do pay attention to rankings of all kinds,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. “So the fact that we are among the nation’s highest ranked universities with U.S. News and World Report is important.”

Brown finished third among national universities in graduation and retention rate and 10th in selectivity.

Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron said she was pleased with Brown’s showing, though she added that some aspects of the magazine’s methodology – including an emphasis on financial resources – tend to favor larger universities.

Brown moved up one spot in both financial resources and faculty resources, placing 27th and 18th, respectively. The faculty resources category includes faculty salaries and benefits.

Though recent gains in these categories may seem small, Brown placed 26th in faculty resources as recently as 2002, so there has been steady improvement over the past few years, according to Ronald Vanden Dorpel AM ’71, senior vice president for University advancement.

Brown ranked 10th in alumni giving, up from No. 13 in 2003, reflecting what Vanden Dorpel called another example of steady improvement when it comes to financial resources.

Vanden Dorpel said the U.S. News ranking has little effect on the University’s fundraising efforts.

Bergeron, who became dean of the College in July, said she believes the U.S. News rankings may not have taken into account some recent improvements.

“The fact there is no change (in the ranking) does not actually represent the status quo,” Bergeron said. “We have become more selective by a couple of percentage points,” she noted, adding that this improvement “is a kind of positive step forward that might not be reflected in U.S. News rankings.”

Bergeron also said the SAT scores of incoming first-years have risen.

One area Bergeron said she would like to continue improving is the percentage of classes with 20 or fewer students. Currently, 67 percent of classes fall into this category, up from 60 percent in 2002. 74 percent of Princeton’s classes have 20 or fewer students.

Bergeron said many departments have emphasized senior seminars in the past, but some have moved away from them as concentrations have become increasingly interdisciplinary.

“As dean of the College I want to look particularly at senior year experiences for small classes,” Bergeron said.