August 20, 2004

SIUC moves up in annual US News rankings

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale has made a significant advance in national rankings in the annual survey of the America's colleges and universities released today by U.S. News & World Report.

SIUC moved into the third tier of national public and private universities, putting the university in the top 75 percent of national universities offering doctoral degrees. SIUC was in the fourth tier in last year's survey. Universities that ranked 130th through 181st, including ties are third-tier schools.

SIUC Chancellor Walter V. Wendler said the jump in rankings is noteworthy, and again shows the University provides excellence in its degree programs. SIUC also placed high in the academic reputation category with a score of 2.6, on a scale where 5.0 is the highest mark possible. These overall scores are largely derived from peer assessments.

"We are pleased with this move in how we are viewed nationally," Wendler said. "It is particularly gratifying that our academic reputation continues to remain solid, as we continue to promote excellence in all of our academic programs."

SIUC ranked 14th nationally in graduates who leave school with the least amount of debt. Thirty-seven percent of SIUC's grads are in debt when they graduate, with the average amount being $12,413.

SIUC Provost and Vice Chancellor John M. Dunn agreed. "This is a closely observed annual ranking system that evaluates both public and private institutions. We think this speaks well of our faculty and the effort they put forth in and out of the classroom. It also shows that we continue to be affordable."

The magazine released survey results to the news media this week. Many of the rankings will appear in the magazine's Aug. 30 issue, which goes on sale next week. The newsstand book, America's Best Colleges, also goes on sale Monday.

"It is important that we continue to offer quality education for both undergraduate and graduate students," said Wendler. "This survey shows that we are continuing on that path."

Among Illinois institutions in the third tier, DePaul University scored a 2.8 and Illinois State University scored a 2.4. Northern Illinois University ranks in the 4th tier.

Key elements that are part of the academic reputation score include data on faculty and class size:

  • Some 93 percent of SIUC's faculty are full time;
  • Nearly half (46 percent) of SIUC classes have fewer than 20 students; and
  • Only 8 percent of classes have more than 50 students in a section.

SIUC also ranked 38th in the nation for schools that enrolled the most transfer students. The University took in 1,963 transfer students in fall 2003.

Academic excellence and peer recognition are part of the building blocks of SIUC's long-range plan, Southern at 150: BuildingExcellence Through Commitment.

Dunn noted the survey reflects that in a time of state budget cuts to higher education, SIUC continues to serve its undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students in meaningful ways.

"The survey shows the University continues to be an excellent value, which is a very important consideration for many students and their families," said Dunn. "Our tuition rates are lower than any other research-centered university in the state."

The rankings are available at the U.S. News and World Report Web site at