March 16, 2012

COEHS’ graduate program moves up in rankings

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s College of Education and Human Services graduate program is 67th in the nation for Best Education Schools, according to U.S. News and World Report’s rankings released this week.

The program ranked 73rd last year.

“The college is very deserving of this national recognition,” Chancellor Rita Cheng said.  “It reflects the commitment of our faculty, staff and graduate students to outstanding teaching, research and service.”

The ranking is a significant indicator of the quality of the education program and its people, according to John J. Benshoff, interim dean and professor in the College of Education and Human Services (COEHS).             

“When my daughter was going to college, one of the first things we did was look at the U.S. News and World Report rankings.  It has a universal applicability and gives you a general view of a college.  We are steadily moving up in the rankings and we are ahead of almost every public university in the state and ahead of all of our regional competitors.  We are very pleased with our improvement in the rankings,” Benshoff said.

Shane Koch, associate dean for academic and student affairs, said that historically, COEHS earns especially high rankings for several of its programs including rehabilitation counseling, social work, workforce education, and communication disorders and sciences. The numbers are particularly strong for rehabilitation counseling and social work this year.

It’s also fitting that the college, which dates to the University’s origins in 1869 as a teachers college, is making its mark.  Koch said the University’s founding college has more alumni and the largest alumni association membership of any college in the University, reflecting both the quality education students receive at SIU Carbondale and their dedication to their alma mater and COEHS.

That data is among the many key indicators that determine the U.S. News and World Report scores and rankings.  A number of other factors go into calculating the rankings as well, including peer and superintendent assessments, external funding, student selectivity, doctoral program acceptance rates, faculty recognition and awards, faculty resources, GRE scores and other data.

“I think it’s really important to recognize the administrative support team, faculty and staff for their hard work and energy in providing the information for review.  It took hundreds of hours to make it happen,” Koch said.

Benshoff noted that the college, its students and the community are seeing the benefits of a concentrated effort to connect with school district colleagues and work jointly on research and education projects.  For instance, COEHS has been working with the Egyptian School District in Tamms in a number of ways, including teacher training, consulting with administrators and hosting students for special summer camp experiences.  These types of programs are so popular, requests continue to arrive to bring them to additional districts.

It’s a way of reaching out and engaging people, assisting them and helping them recognize they can get a quality education here, according to Benshoff.  It likewise benefits SIU Carbondale students, giving them enhanced research and educational opportunities.

“These projects benefit our graduate and undergraduate students with opportunities they wouldn’t have without these relationships,” Benshoff said.