Private colleges in Hawai'i fare well in report
By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer
Hawai'i's top four institutions of higher learning took hits and received kudos in U.S. News & World Report's annual "America's Best Colleges" listings.
The U.S. News ranking is one of the largest and most widely distributed rankings of the nation's colleges. For the 2003 report, the magazine rated 1,400 schools according to several factors, including class size, student retention, ACT or SAT scores of students, financial resources and peer rankings by faculty members.
Brigham Young University-Hawai'i tied for 5th place among western universities that limit their offerings to undergraduate programs and grant less than half of their degrees in liberal arts. The school tied for fourth last year in the same category. U.S. News rated 324 schools in the division nationwide.
BYU-Hawai'i also scored well in the peer review category a category formerly known as academic reputation. The school ranked third among western schools; ninth in the nation.
It also scored in the top 10 for western schools in its category for student diversity, and first in its division for accepting highly ranked students.
"It means a lot to us to receive a consistently high assessment from a reputable third party like U.S. News," said Keith Roberts, academics vice president for BYU-Hawai'i. "It shows that year in and year out, we're doing many things well."
As western schools that offer undergraduate and masters degree-level programs but not doctoral programs, Chaminade University of Honolulu and Hawai'i Pacific University were the only two schools among Hawai'i's top four competing against each other in the masters ratings for western universities. U.S. News ranked 573 schools in the division nationwide.
HPU ranked within the second tier of western schools, between the 33rd- and 65th-ranked schools, and scored among the top 14 of those schools for campus diversity. HPU was the only Hawai'i college to be named in the "Best Value" category, scoring among the top 50 western schools.
"We're always striving to improve and it is nice to be recognized," said Scott Stensrud, HPU's associate vice president of enrollment management.
But the U.S. News assessment is controversial among educators because of its failure to measure a number of factors that could be important to individual students, Stensrud said.
"It's a love-hate relationship," he said.
Chaminade ranked in tier three, between the 66th- and 95th-ranked western schools, and came in among the top seven universities in the diversity ranking.
"We're pleased to be recognized by U.S. News & World Report," said Gary Cordova, vice president for institutional development at Chaminade. "But Chaminade is really much more than the rankings would indicate."
The University of Hawai'i-Manoa and the University of Hawai'i-Hilo remained stationary in their rankings from last year.
UH-Manoa scored in the third tier of national rankings for universities offering doctoral degrees. The third tier includes school that ranked between 130th and 194th among 249 institutions.
UH-Hilo scored in the fourth tier among 217 liberal arts schools offering only bachelors degrees.
Fourth-tier schools rank between 162nd and 214th.
UH president Evan Dobelle said both schools should rank higher and have ranked higher in the past, but a lack of state money has hampered UH.
"The state of Hawai'i is ranked dead last in public support for higher education and that is reflected in the U.S. News rankings," he said.
"Just four years ago both schools were ranked in the second tier, and a couple years before that Manoa ranked in the top 25 national public universities," he said. "Today, we have increased enrollment, strengthened curriculums, expanded our graduate programs and recruited a higher caliber of students but the state has taken away virtually all of our financial resources, thus making it impossible to achieve a top ranking."
Reach Karen Blakeman at 535-2430 or firstname.lastname@example.org.