Boston College tied for 38th place with the University of Wisconsin at Madison in the magazine's annual assessment of 228 national universities, based on attributes such as academic reputation, student selectivity, faculty resources and alumni giving.
Harvard University and Princeton University both ranked first in the survey, followed by Duke and Yale universities, which tied for third place.
Others in the top 50 included Massachusetts Institute of Technology (6th), the universities of Notre Dame (19th), Virginia (21st), North Carolina-Chapel Hill (27th) and Southern California (41st), and Georgetown (21st), Tufts (23rd), Brandeis (28th) and Syracuse (40th) universities.
The rankings appear in the Sept. 1 issue of US News & World Report and in the magazine's new America's Best Colleges guide.
University administrators said they are pleased by Boston College's continued success in national rankings - this marks the third consecutive year BC has appeared in a US News ranking of top 40 institutions. They expressed confidence that forthcoming initiatives through the University Academic Planning Council and Project Delta, among others, will further strengthen the University in several areas, including those measured in the rankings.
"The rankings confirm the standing of Boston College among the elite institutions in the country," said Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties William B. Neenan, SJ. "They also indicate the importance of the UAPC's efforts to enhance our academic programs through strategic placement of increased resources."
"There are few dramatic changes in the overall rankings from year to year," said Dean for Enrollment Management Robert Lay, a member of the US News advisory board for the college rankings. "But we are encouraged by our performance in several categories. The survey presents more information to give a fuller picture of an institution and, therefore, reflects our growth in many areas."
For example, Lay said, the University benefited in the comparison of its predicted and actual 1996 graduation rates, which US News reported as 78 percent and 86 percent, respectively.
"It shows we do a very good job of not only retaining our freshmen - 94 percent, according to the survey - but in graduating them," he said.
US News placed institutions into four categories derived from those established by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching: national universities, national liberal arts colleges, regional universities and regional liberal arts colleges. The magazine sent questionnaires to some 1,400 four-year institutions and used the results, along with data from other sources, to compile the rankings.
In its methodology, US News included these criteria: academic reputation, based on the evaluation of presidents, provosts and admissions deans; graduation and freshman retention rates; faculty resources, comprising elements such as class size, faculty salaries and student-faculty ratio; student selectivity, as determined through test scores, high school class standing, acceptance rate and yield for the fall 1996 freshman class; financial resources, as reflected in educational and other expenditures on a per-student basis; and alumni giving, based on average percentage of alumni who gave to their alma maters during the 1995 and 1996 academic years.
Boston College was given a score of 2.8, out of possible 4.0, for academic reputation. The University ranked 18th in graduation and retention, 20th in student selectivity, 40th in alumni giving, and 87th in both faculty and financial resources.
Lay pointed out that UAPC and Delta initiatives will have a positive impact in areas such as financial aid and faculty resources, and future US News surveys would likely indicate this trend, as well as the University's increasing selectiveness.
"We've consistently done well in retention and selectivity," he said, "and we have a great opportunity to move up in other criteria."
The US News survey also found that Boston College ranks among the 28 national universities with the highest proportion of business majors.
More information on the rankings and the institutions surveyed is available through the US News Web site [http://www.usnews.com].
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