UF closes in on top 10 status in magazine ranking
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 9, 2013 at 10:22 p.m.
The University of Florida has jumped into the top 50 universities in the nation — and the top 15 among public universities, according to the 2014 U.S. News & World Report rankings of colleges and universities.
UF moved from 54th place last year to 49th this year among national universities, tying with Northeastern University and the University of California-Irvine. It moved up three places to 14th among the top public universities, bringing it that much closer to the university administration's goal of becoming a top 10 institution of higher learning.
"Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature are supporting our effort to be among the nation's top public universities, and we expect to continue our climb in future years," UF President Bernie Machen said. "This will benefit all students in Florida who deserve an opportunity to attend a top-ranked university in their home state."
Among the areas of improvement noted were UF's graduation and retention rank, expected graduation rate, selectivity, alumni giving rank, faculty resources, percentage of freshmen in the top 10 percent of their class, and the percentage of classes with fewer than 20 students.
UF Provost Joe Glover lauded the work of the faculty, staff, students and supporters to get UF through the past five years of budget cuts due to a down economy statewide and nationally.
During that time, the Legislature cut higher education spending by $900 million, and UF's budget by $230 million, forcing program cuts and a 9.4 percent reduction in full-time tenure-track faculty.
"UF's national ranking is in large part due to their efforts and reflects our continued quest to increase our standing among the nation's top public universities," Glover said. "With the full participation of the UF community, we look forward to the opportunity this year to build on this excellence."
The Florida Legislature restored $300 million cut from higher education the previous year and provided an additional $300 million-plus to the system.
Last session, the Legislature passed a bill that recognized UF as the state's most pre-eminent university, a designation that comes with additional millions of dollars over the next five years to recruit new faculty, build new classrooms and teaching labs, and develop an online baccalaureate program.
Machen pledged to match state money with private donations to raise $150 million over the next five years to recruit and hire nationally recognized research faculty. In addition, the University of Florida Foundation has launched an $800 million fund drive to help create 100 new endowed professorships.
UF was admitted to the Association of American Universities 28 years ago, joining the ranks of 62 of the country's top public and private research institutions. Machen said that when UF is compared with the top 16 AAU public universities, its biggest gaps have to do with faculty and prestige.
"Being a top 10 university isn't about bragging rights," Machen said earlier this summer. "It's about being an institution that is among the best at fulfilling its mission of research, education, service and economic development."