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Carolina fifth among public campuses in U.S. News rankings

CHAPEL HILL -- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ranks as the nation’s fifth best public university, according to U.S. News & World Report magazine.

The annual rankings are part of the magazine's "America's Best Colleges" guidebook. They were posted at today (Aug. 22) and will be published in the Sept. 1 issue of the magazine. The magazine and the guidebook will be on newsstands Monday (Aug. 25).

Among public campuses, the universities of California-Berkeley and Virginia tied for first. The universities of Michigan at Ann Arbor and California at Los Angeles ranked third and fourth, respectively, followed by UNC at fifth. Carolina also placed fifth the past two years. These same five campuses have either traded or tied for the top five slots in the U.S. News public campus category over the past several years.

Overall, Carolina ranked 29th among both public and private campuses – down one spot from last year. Other top public campuses ranked between 21st (Berkeley and Virginia) and 26th (UCLA) overall.

The rankings are based on a magazine formula that weights data including survey responses about a school’s academic excellence from peer presidents, provosts or admissions officials; retention rates; faculty resources; student selectivity; financial resources; graduation rates; and alumni giving.

Chancellor James Moeser said U.S. News rankings are but one way to measure the quality of a university. Carolina has been working over the past year to develop its own measures of excellence that include comparisons with Berkeley, Virginia, Michigan and UCLA – all considered the university’s major peer campuses for years.

"Those are the campuses we look at when we consider Carolina’s aspirations for future excellence," Moeser said. "The people’s love for this university has enabled it to flourish for more than two centuries. We are doing all we can to make sure that success continues, and I’m confident that we’ll keep moving forward on a positive trajectory."

Regarding the latest results from U.S. News, Moeser said he was pleased to see continued improvement in key ranking categories covering overall student quality.

"Those results track well with Carolina’s ongoing success in attracting exceptionally talented students, especially this year as we bring in a freshman class that is the most academically prepared in the university’s history," he said.

"If there is an area of concern, it is in the category of faculty resources," Moeser said. "One of Carolina’s most pressing issues is the impact a continued decline in competitive salaries and benefits is having for both our faculty and staff. Staff resources are not a distinct category within the U.S. News methodology, but that issue is a critical priority for us at Carolina."

In other U.S. News rankings, UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School tied for seventh with the University of Virginia and Carnegie Mellon University among public and private universities offering undergraduate business degree programs. Kenan-Flagler tied for fourth among public campuses. In specialty areas, Kenan-Flagler was listed fifth for marketing, sixth for management and operations, eighth for finance, ninth for accounting, 12th for quantitative analysis (ties with Pennsylvania State), and 16th for international business (tied with Maryland).

U.S. News also included Carolina in a category called "programs to look for" -- highlighting outstanding examples of academic programs that lead to student success. UNC was listed among 33 public and private campuses for theirs first-year experiences programs, which include first-year seminars and other programs bringing small groups of students together with faculty and staff on a regular basis. UNC is one of 17 public campuses selected for the list.

Another sub-category of "programs to look for" was undergraduate research/creative projects, in which UNC was listed among 39 public and private campuses. UNC was among 13 public universities on this list. The category reflects opportunities for students to engage in independent or small-team work under the direction of a faculty mentor. The students conduct intensive and self-directed research or creative work that results in an original scholarly paper or other product that they can formally present on or off campus.

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