Kent State ranks third-tier this year

Jackie Valley

Kent State improved in the last year, according to the college rankings released by U.S. News & World Report.

For the first time in many years, Kent State’s placement in the annual rankings jumped to a tier-three ranking among national universities. The tier-three ranking is just below the top 50 percent of schools.

Kent State had previously been ranked in tier four, the bottom 25 percent of national universities that participate in the rankings.

KSU Statistics

Peer assessment score (5.0=highest): 2.6

Average freshman retention rate: 72 percent

2006 predicted graduation rate: 37 percent

2006 actual graduation rate: 46 percent

Percentage of classes with fewer than 20 students (’06): 51 percent

Percentage of classes with 50 or more students (’06): 7 percent

Percentage of faculty who are full time (’06): 81 percent

SAT/ACT 25th-75th percentile (’06): 18-24

Freshmen in top 10 percent of high school class: 12 percent

Acceptance rate (’06): 84 percent

Source: U.S. News & World Report

President Lester Lefton said although Kent State’s improved ranking is good news, he does “not want ratings to drive what we do.”

“When we improve in rank, we celebrate,” he said. “When we don’t, we ignore it.”

Due to the nature of the rankings system, Lefton said it is important not to read too much into the rankings.

“They are a flawed mechanism,” he said. “They don’t focus on the right things in my opinion.”

U.S. News & World Report judges the 262 schools in the national universities group based on their performance the previous academic year in the following categories: peer assessment score, freshman retention rate, graduation rate, class size, percentage of full time faculty, SAT and ACT scores, freshman high school class rank, acceptance rate and alumni giving rate.

Provost Robert Frank said immediate effects of the ranking will be minimal, but the improved ranking may “enhance our application pool for next year” when prospective students review the rankings.

Frank cited Kent State gaining more national recognition for the quality of its academics as one of the possible reasons for the increase, in addition to the university’s category increases within the rankings.

“I think it’s a testimony to the hard work the faculty has been doing over the past year,” he said.

Still, Frank said one of the leading factors holding Kent State back from the top 50 percent of schools is its retention rate.

“We are at 72 percent, but we need to be at least 78 percent,” he said.

All Ohio schools in the top 50 percent — Ohio State University, Miami University, Ohio University and the University of Dayton — had retention rates above 80 percent.

Ohio State University achieved the highest ranking in the state at 57 in the top schools category. U.S. News & World Report ranks schools in the top 50 percent by number.

Bowling Green State University, Ball State University, Western Michigan University and the University of Cincinnati also received a tier-three ranking, while the University of Akron, Central Michigan University and Cleveland State University remained in tier four.

Because Kent State is focusing on recruitment, retention, research and the faculty, Frank said he thinks the university will be able to at least maintain its improved ranking.

“It’s the beginning of an upward movement for Kent,” he said.

Contact administration reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].