TAMPA — The University of South Florida maintained its spot at No. 170 on an influential ranking of the nation's best national universities, but the school was named an “up & comer” for its innovation in academics, faculty, student life, campus and facilities.
No Florida university was considered in league with the Ivies, which dominated the top 10 on the annual list by U.S. News and World Report. The University of Miami was the highest-ranking Florida university at No. 47; Florida was 49; Florida State, 91; the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, 167; and Central Florida was tied with USF at 170.
The main USF campus earned one of 23 “up-and-comer” spots along with Central Florida for being cited most often by college presidents, provosts and admissions deans who were asked to identify 10 up-and-coming schools in their category.
Inclusion on that list “strongly suggests that our efforts to build the university's reputation through high-profile, high-impact research and world-class scholarship are working,” USF provost and executive vice president Ralph Wilcox said in a statement released by the university. “Coming at a time when we continue to address some new and very difficult financial realities, the university's re-emergence on the list also helps to underscore the hard work and can-do attitude of our faculty and staff.”
It is the fourth time USF has made that list. Wilcox said the appearance “is an achievement which the entire campus community can celebrate.”
The annual ranking is controversial, with many university administrators complaining about subjective criteria and an emphasis on money. U.S. News calculates the rankings based on graduation and retention rates, an assessment by peers and counselors, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performance and alumni giving.
The publication also ranked the best regional universities, with several Florida institutions faring well. Rollins College of Winter Park tied with Elon University of North Carolina at the top of the regional list.
Stetson University in DeLand was No. 5 on that list, with the University of Tampa at 22, Saint Leo at 55 and USF St. Petersburg at 80.
Both New College in Sarasota (No. 89) and Eckerd College in St. Petersburg made the list of the nation's best liberal arts colleges.