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UB ranks ahead of several public universities

Athletics, diversity and competitive research opportunities give UB national attention

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UB proved to be a front-runner in many areas – including athletics, diversity and research – compared to other universities, according to a recent poll.

A recent Buffalo Business First study ranked UB 41 out of 477 public universities, marking a six-place jump from last year’s ranking. As UB edges into third place among other SUNY schools, other universities like Stony Brook, Binghamton and Geneseo have all dropped off since last year’s ranking.

The study draws on 20 indicators of academic excellence, prestige, affordability, diversity and economic strength.

For some UB students and administrators, the university’s reputation goes beyond the numbers.

Chris Krysztofowicz, a sophomore English major, said he sees UB’s diverse student body as a reason for the university’s growing prestige.

“I bet a lot of it is our diversity,” Krysztofowicz said. “Everyone talks about it nowadays, but it really does contribute to the academic experience just being around so many new cultures and perspectives.”

Racial diversity accounts for a little more than 2 percent of the factors weighed in ranking the schools.

The report uses the Gini-Simpson Index, which calculates the odds that two random students selected would be of different races. UB scored a 67 percent for student diversity and 42.8 percent for faculty diversity.

According to UB’s demographic statistics, 48 percent of students are white while almost 79 percent of UB’s faculty is white.

While UB’s recruitment and academic changes aren’t influenced by these rankings, positive attention speaks to the success of many new initiatives the school has undertaken in the last few years, according to UB Spokesperson John Della Contrada.

Della Contrada cites the success of UB’s “Finish in 4” program, an initiative aimed to help students graduate in a timely manner with less debt, as a reason for its prestige.

Finish in 4 has helped UB’s four-year graduation rate rise to 26 percent above the national average, Della Contrada said.

Other improvements include the renovation to UB’s Oscar A. Silverman Library, as part of the “Heart of the Campus” initiative, as well as a brand-new undergraduate curriculum, which will begin fall of 2016. Della Contrada said the curriculum, which will account for one third of the undergraduate course catalog, will set UB apart from its sister universities in the SUNY system.

Business First gave UB a 136 score for prestige. This is determined by the school’s recent ranking by Forbes and last year’s rankings by The Business Journals. This figure is low relative to UB’s other scores.

In addition to academic achievements, Division I athletics will continue to help with UB’s national visibility, according to Della Contrada.

“Winning conference championships, one national championship and competing in national championship tournaments have raised UB’s visibility on the national stage and have attracted interest from prospective students who see Division I athletics as a very appealing component of the campus experience,” Della Contrada said.

Brenna Zanghi, a freshman English major, said a more comprehensive image of UB’s academic strengths could benefit the school.

“The school has such a strong liberal arts program that I feel like a lot of people overlook when considering UB, they think it’s only for STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education] majors,” Zanghi said.

The report did not breakdown ratings for individual programs, but with national visibility and prestige accounted for, UB’s mainstream image does become a matter of importance.

Della Contrada said that UB would be launching an identity and brand initiative this spring that will highlight UB’s strengths in the arts and humanities, STEM and professional school programs.

Sarah Crowley is a news staff writer and can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com.


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