UCI Tenth Among Top Public Schools in New Rankings

UC Irvine ranked 40th among all national universities and 10th among public universities in the newly released annual rankings by U.S. News and World Report.
These rankings are an improvement over last year, when UCI ranked 12th among public universities and 43rd overall.
Manuel Gomez, vice chancellor of student affairs at UCI, cited several factors for the jump in UCI’s ranking.
‘We have improved in the overall quality of our students, our graduation ranks and our persistence in graduation rates of our students, and that has contributed to the overall quality of the institution and therefore the rankings,’ Gomez said.
U.S. News and World Report measures universities in 18 different categories, ranging from alumni giving rates to the percentage of enrolled students that came from the top 10 percent of their graduating high school class, and SAT scores.
UCI is the fourth-highest ranked UC campus, with UC Berkeley ranked first among public schools, UCLA ranked third and UCSD ranked seventh. UCSB was 12th and UC Davis was 14th.
William Parker, dean of graduate studies at UCI, provided the rankings of some of UCI’s graduate programs, as ranked in the spring by U.S. News and World Report. Criminology was ranked fourth of 22 universities, English 16th of 93, history 32nd of 87, political science 35th of 58, neurobiology and behavior under the School of Biological Sciences 16th of 210, cognitive sciences under the School of Social Sciences 22nd of 210, psychology and social behavior under the School of Social Ecology 47th of 210, and sociology 27th of 64.
UCI’s undergraduate engineering program was ranked 49th, falling short of its two closest-ranked UC competitors: UCSB, 36th, and UC Davis, 27th.
In the four decades since UCI was founded in 1965, it has grown to outrank its sister universities: UC Riverside, UCSB, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Davis.
‘There is no doubt that your alma mater is continuing to develop an extraordinary academic reputation for an institution that is only 40 years old,’ Gomez said. ‘There is equally no doubt that the overall quality of this institution is a reflection of our incoming students.’
Students hope that the improved ranking will help distinguish UCI.
‘I think it’s great that UCI has been able to make a jump in ranking, though it is a small one, especially since UCI tends to be one of the least-known among UC institutions,’ said Melissa Ocampo, a second-year political science major.
Other students were reassured by the news. ‘I made the right choice in going to UCI instead of UC Santa Cruz,’ said Bodin Vimolchalao, a fourth-year English major.
Gomez noted, however, that U.S. News and World Report is not necessarily an accurate representation of the quality of a university.
‘First of all, you should know this week’s rankings are fickle,’ Gomez said. ‘We move back and forth over the years, as do most other top research institutions. While I’m proud and happy that we are ranked 10th of all public universities in the nation, I keep that in mind.’
Gomez said that UCI’s and UC Davis’ rankings have been prone to seesawing over the years.
In the 2000 U.S. News and World Report list, UCI dropped to 49th from 36th in 1999 because it failed to provide accurate information about its incoming freshmen.
UC Davis suffered from a similar fate this year, when it incorrectly reported that only 64 percent of its staff members hold professional or doctoral degrees, when in reality 98 percent do. This caused UC Davis to drop from last year’s rank of 42nd to 48th this year and from 10th to 14th among public universities, according to the school’s Web site.
UCI Chancellor Michael Drake also downplayed the significance of the rankings, likening them to a ‘popularity contest.’
‘One of the things that gets you points in the rankings is percentage of alumni giving,’ Drake said. ‘The percentage of alumni giving correlates directly to the age of the school and the wealth of the alumni. So if what you do is train rich people, you’ll have a high percentage of alumni giving and your ranking goes up. If you train society more broadly, if you really educate society to work, those people who are working to build their lives don’t really have the means to give you money and your ranking goes down.’