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Release: Immediate

New study of national universities calls UI 'rising star'

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa is the 20th best public university in the United States and is a "rising star" among its peers nationally, according to a new study that uses objective data to rank American research universities.

The study, conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University and the University of Maryland, measured the research productivity on a per capita basis of 203 universities as part of a larger look at American research institutions over the past 45 years.

Using numerical indexes, researchers compared money received from federal grants, the number of articles published across scholarly fields, articles in top-rated scientific journals, articles in top-rated social science journals and fellowships in the arts and humanities.

In the combined index for nationally ranked and rising public research universities, the UI ranks 20th, tied with the State University of New York at Albany.

When only "rising" universities are considered, the UI ranks 10th among the top 21. A "rising" university is defined as an institution that did not appear in four, often-cited rankings of universities conducted by national educational organizations during the past 30 years.

UI President Mary Sue Coleman said the study confirms the UI's standing as a premier university whose faculty are leaders in creating and disseminating new knowledge.

"Iowans have long been proud of their commitment to education and the legacy of excellence at the University," Coleman said. "While the University has always been highly ranked based on national surveys, this is the first study to confirm that our place among the leading universities is based on scholarly achievements in several disciplines rather and not just on reputation alone."

Results of the study are published in "The Rise of American Research Universities: Elites and Challengers in the Postwar Era," by Hugh Davis Graham and Nancy Diamond, and published by The Johns Hopkins University Press (1997).

Graham, Holland N. McTyeire Professor of American History at Vanderbilt, said he and Diamond conceived the study as a way to objectively measure research universities and their role as "creators of knowledge" since World War II.

Other studies, many of them frequently cited by academics and administrators, are based on the reputation of institutions, Graham said. A reputational survey is open to bias through a "halo effect" that skews results toward large universities and prestigious, private universities.

The new study controls for size by measuring factors on a per capita basis and controls for the halo effect by comparing actual, published scholarship and awards.

"Our study measures real things," Graham said. "There is no subjective component in our survey."

The study also separates public and private universities because of the different political, educational and monetary issues facing the different types of institutions.

Graham said there are few surprises in the rankings of private universities. But the new study found several rising stars, particularly among the California and New York systems, that are overlooked by traditional surveys. Traditional Big Ten powerhouses, Ohio State University and Pennsylvania State University also dropped out of the top universities in the new study.

According to the study, the University of California at Berkeley is ranked first among all nationally ranked public research universities.

Rounding out the top 20 are the University of California at Santa Barbara, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the University of Illinois, Indiana University, the University of California at San Diego, the University of Colorado, the University of California at Riverside and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (tied for 11th), the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Washington, the University of California at Santa Cruz and the University of Oregon (tied for 15th), the University of California at Amherst, the University of Maryland at College Park and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (tied for 18th), the University of Iowa and the State University of New York at Albany (tied for 20th).