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Audiology, speech/pathology, education and law among best in U.S. News (Released: 3/5/98)

by Sherry Fisher, Office of University Communications.

Storrs, Conn. -- The audiology program is ranked in the top 20 and the speech/language pathology program and the schools of education and law are among the top 50 in their categories, in the latest ranking of the nation’s best graduate school programs by U.S. News and World Report.

The audiology program, in the communication sciences department, is ranked 14th out of 117; the speech/language pathology program also in the communication sciences department, is ranked 21st out of 224; the School of Education 37th out of 191; and the School of Law 48th of 174 in the magazine’s annual rankings.

The graduate school rankings are published in the March 2 issue of the weekly magazine and in a guidebook, 1998 America’s Best Graduate Schools. This is the first year the magazine has ranked audiology and speech/language pathology programs.

The audiology and speech/language pathology rankings take into account both master’s and Ph.D. programs. For audiology, the University of Iowa tops the list. UConn ranks 14th, tied with Ohio State University, the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and the University of Texas-

Austin. Northwestern University tops the list for speech/language pathology. UConn tied with Louisiana State University Medical Center-New Orleans; Syracuse University; Teachers College, Columbia University; the University of Colorado-Boulder; University of Tennessee-Knoxville; University of Texas-Dallas; and Western Michigan University.

The education school rankings look at 191 graduate education programs that grant Ph.D. or Ed.D. degrees. The list is topped by Teachers College at Columbia University, tied with the University of California-Berkeley. UConn ranked 37th in a tie with Florida State University, the University of Arizona and the University of California-Santa Barbara. Of the 174 accredited law schools ranked, Yale topped the list. UConn ranked 48th, tied with the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

"It is heartening to see, for the second year in a row, some of the University’s academic programs ranked among the best nationally," says Chancellor Mark Emmert. "Such rankings are a testimony not only to the quality of these programs but also to our continuing, selective, and focused enhancement of them."

The School of Education has risen from 48th last year. The School of Law ranked 35th last year.

Antonia Brancia Maxon, professor and head of the audiology program, says their specialty in childhood hearing impairment is unique. "We’re the only program in the country that has the emphasis in childhood hearing impairment." She also points out that since 1991 the program has received competitive training grants from the U.S. Department of Education, and that student applications have risen dramatically over the last five years.

Harvey Gilbert, who heads the communication sciences department says, "Since 1990, we’ve hired almost an entire new faculty in speech/language pathology. We essentially have a new program in speech/language pathology today. The rankings may reflect the new directions the program is taking."

"This is a great day for the School of Education," says Richard Schwab, dean of the school. "It’s recognition of all the hard work that the faculty and staff have been doing to identify ourselves

as one of the top schools in the country. It’s an all-around indicator that we are a school on the move."

Law School Dean Hugh Macgill says, "Six years ago we weren’t ranked at all. Then we went up like a rocket, and now we take a hit. I believe we are a much better school than this year’s ranking suggests. We are glad to be among the leaders in our own field, and we share the University’s pride in the achievement of the audiology program and the School of Education."

Legal educators around the country have become more insistent that applicants pay too much attention to rankings of their schools. The Association of American Law Schools has asked U.S. News to stop ranking schools and the Law School Admission Council and 164 law deans sent a letter to the estimated 70,000 applicants to American law schools criticizing rankings in general, and using U.S. News as an example.

The deans say that the rankings ignore important factors such as faculty quality and curricula; they cite the magazine’s use last year of bar passage data that may have reflected differing exam dates; and they fault the magazine’s estimates for some placement data, calling them an invention.