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WSU online programs rank among top in nation

By Kathy Barnard, WSU News

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University online graduate programs in business and engineering as well as the online bachelor’s degree program are among the best in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report rankings released today.Continue reading

Online MBA among top 10 for academic excellence

best-online-programs-grad-business-100PULLMAN, Wash. – For the second year in a row, U.S. News and World Report has ranked Washington State University among the top 10 best online graduate business programs for its MBA and Executive MBA degrees. WSU’s College of Business was recognized for continued strides to provide a world-class education that is personalized and convenient to students.Continue reading

WSU ranks high for LGBT student inclusion, safety

GIESORC anniversary

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University ranks as one of the best universities in the nation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students.

Campus Pride, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making colleges and universities safer, more inclusive spaces for LGBT individuals, this week released its annual nationwide list, “Top 25 LGBT Friendly Colleges and Universities.” It is the first time WSU has been included.
“I am proud of the work we have done as a campus and community to address the needs and concerns of our LGBT students,” said Heidi Stanton Schnebly, director of WSU’s Gender Identity Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center (GIESORC).
GIESORC is celebrating its 20th anniversary at WSU this year. 
“Our theme is ‘20 Years of Opening Doors to a Future of Possibilities,’” said Stanton Schnebly.  “This honor really speaks to what we have accomplished over the years and our excitement about continuing this work into the future.” 
Campus Pride determined the rankings by analyzing data gathered from a 50-question survey completed by participating colleges/universities. The survey asked about LGBT policy inclusion, support and institutional commitment, academic life, student life, housing, campus safety, counseling and health, and recruitment and retention efforts.
Campus Pride’s index is the only one of its kind, according to Shane Windmeyer, the group’s executive director.
“Unlike other commercially driven rankings, our ratings are done for and by LGBT people and set in a foundation of solid research practice,” he told the Huffington Post online news site and blog.
Each school included in the listing achieved 5 stars overall in the index, plus 5 stars in sexual orientation and 5 stars in gender identity/expression. In addition, the schools had to have 4.5 stars or above (or the highest percentages) in all LGBT-friendly factors.
Stanton Schnebly said being included in the top 25 will help WSU attract new LGBT students.
“I know that parents are using Campus Pride rankings as a tool for searching for safe campuses for their LGBT students,” she said.
While Stanton Schnebly is proud of WSU’s accomplishments, she is quick to point out that more can be done to make LGBT students welcome and successful. For example, she would like WSU to follow the lead of Washington community colleges in allowing students to indicate their gender identity or sexual orientation on the university application. Also, she said work is continuing with the WSU student health advisory board to provide health insurance coverage for transgender students.
WSU is one of five universities from the Pacific Northwest in the top 25. Others include Portland State University, Southern Oregon University, University of Oregon (UO) and University of Washington (UW). WSU joins UW, UO, the University of Southern California and Stanford in representing the Pac-12 conference on the list. 
To view all schools in the top 25, visit
For more information about the 20-year anniversary, visit

Faculty rankings controversial

Faculty in eight disciplines at WSU are among the most productive researchers in the country in their respective fields, earning a top-10 ranking according to a recent survey by Academic Analytics, a for-profit higher education consulting firm owned in part by State University of New York at Stony Brook.

According to Academic Analytics, which began reporting faculty productivity rankings three years ago, WSU researchers in the plant sciences ranked No. 2 in the United States, only behind the University of Wisconsin. WSU faculty conducting work in animal sciences ranked fourth, and those conducting food science research ranked sixth in terms of productivity. Agronomy and crop sciences researchers ranked seventh in the nation, while horticulture researchers ranked eighth.

Faculty members in veterinary medical sciences were ranked third in their field behind Ohio State University and the University of Minnesota. Faculty conducting research that Academic Analytics broadly classified as zoology placed seventh in their field and faculty members in American studies were ranked eighth.

NRC next
TV Reed, chair of the American Studies department, said the rankings are “a testament to the hard work, creativity and engagement of our faculty.”

Reed said 28 faculty members teach graduate courses in American studies, primarily from English, comparative ethnic studies and women’s studies.

“We very much expect that it bodes well for a similar type of ranking from the NRC (National Research Council),” Reed said.

While pleased that the rankings recognized some of WSU’s most distinguished programs, WSU administrators — and others around the country — say that they need to know more about how the rankings are compiled.
Some questions
“There is controversy around the nation regarding these rankings,” said James N. Petersen, vice provost for research. “Nevertheless, it does recognize and highlight some of WSU’s very best research programs.”

The problem, said Howard Grimes, dean of the graduate school, is that “no one knows how they crunch the numbers. Like most rankings, you need to understand the methodology in order to understand the outcome of the rankings.”

According to the Academic Analytics website, the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index is a method for “evaluating doctoral programs at research universities” across all Carnegie classifications.

But, Grimes said, that claim is a stretch because the index is focused solely on faculty research and does not include any student data.

Results suspect
While Academic Analytics claims the rankings are the first objective measurement of per-capita scholarly achievement (unlike the National Research Council rankings, which have historically included prestige or reputation in the ranking formula), several “counterintuitive” rankings are raising questions.

For instance, according to a story in the Nov. 16 Chronicle of Higher Education, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas ranks as a top graduate school in the humanities, alongside Columbia, Harvard and Yale universities and the University of California, Berkeley.

Last year, Duke University’s math department ranked second in the nation, but its English department ranked 105th. But this year Duke’s math department dropped from the top 10 and its English department ranked seventh.

Stated criteria
Academic Analytics has not released specific information about how the rankings are compiled, but has said it looks at a variety of measures related to scholarly productivity, including the number of faculty members in a program, the number of articles or books published by the faculty, the extent to which other scholars cite the works created by the faculty and the amount of federal funding obtained to support the research. Academic Analytics requests lists for faculty involved in graduate education in each research program, but it also uses a web crawl to compile faculty lists from university departmental websites.

According to Grimes, WSU supplied Academic Analytics with accurate faculty lists, the same lists supplied to the National Research Council. But, according to the story in the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than half of the 375 research universities included in the study did not respond to requests for updated faculty lists.

With the National Research Council scheduled to release its graduate program rankings next year, many people are looking at the Academic Analytics rankings for clues as to who’s moved up and who’s dropped down in the NRC rankings.

But, said Grimes, while Academic Analytics has compiled information that is useful for internal discussions, particularly when charting progress on a year-to-year basis, the National Research Council report is much more comprehensive and remains the best measure of the quality of graduate programs.