University of Tennessee graduate programs move up in U.S. News & World Report rankings

Several University of Tennessee colleges and programs earned recognition from U.S. News and World Report in its 2019 graduate school rankings.

The rankings include three UT graduate programs that are in the top 30 among public institutions.

They are the Haslam College of Business, which moved up seven spots to 22nd; the Tickle College of Engineering, which moved up four spots to 29th; and the College of Social Work, ranked 25th.

Several other colleges are in the top 50 among public institutions. The College of Law is 34th; the College of Nursing is 40th; and the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences is 48th.

"All of these programs are outstanding programs," said Interim Provost John Zomchick. "Leadership is important. Dedication is important and sometimes the serendipity of being close to Oak Ridge National Lab helps too."

Leadership in business and engineering key

In the Haslam College of Business, Dean Stephen Mangnum has contributed to growth by placing a focus on publishing academic papers in elite journals, something that bodes well in the annual rankings, Zomchick said. This year's improvement is on top of the college moving up five spots last year.

The naming of the college in 2014 following a $50 million gift from Pilot Flying J founder James A. Haslam has also helped give it a boost.

"It shows it has the support of an important philanthropist and community leader and I think the support of the Haslam family has enabled the college to recruit outstanding faculty and leaders in their disciplines," Zomchick said.

The same can be said in the Tickle College of Engineering, which was named after trustee and philanthropist John Tickle in 2016.

Under Dean Wayne Davis, who will retire this summer, the college has grown enrollment and boosted research. It is currently home to 12 of the university's 16 governor's chairs, which are funded by the state and the national lab to bring top researchers to Tennessee.

The relationship with the lab "has gone a long way to raise the prominence and stature of Tickle," Zomchick said.

Three programs in top 20 in their field

Three disciplines from across UT made the cut as being among the top 20 programs in their field, public or private:

*The Tickle College of Engineering’s nuclear engineering department is 7th among public institutions and 8th overall.

*Supply chain management, in the Haslam College of Business, is 7th among public institutions and 10th overall.

*The College of Law’s clinical training program is 9th among public institutions, up five spots, and 20th overall, up seven spots.

While U.S. News ranks some programs annually, others are ranked only every few years.

One of those, the Earth Sciences program in the College of Arts and Sciences, improved 23 spots over the most recent ranking from 2014 and is now 38th among public universities.

Printmaking second in nation

Based on 2016 rankings, the School of Art’s graduate printmaking program is second in the nation overall and its Master of Fine Arts is 15th among all public universities. Both programs are based in the College of Arts and Sciences.

As a university, UT currently ranks 46th among public institutions. The university-wide and undergraduate rankings are typically released in September.

"We’re on a pathway of continuous improvement," Zomchick said. "We are constantly looking for opportunities to increase the prominence of some of our highly ranked programs."

One way the university will look to do that going forward is through the development of research clusters, multi-disciplinary initiatives that will look to address some of the most pressing problems in Tennessee and around the country through the addition of faculty with specific areas of expertise.

The university's goal of growing enrollment by 15 percent by 2022 will help fund the additional researchers.

"We’re very focused on giving back to your community and our state and I think these research clusters will enable us to do two things," Zomchick said. "One, to give back to our community and our state and two, to be a driver for continuing to improve our national visibility." 

The U.S. News & World Report rankings are based on expert opinions about program excellence and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school's faculty, research and students.

The 2019 graduate rankings are based on statistical surveys sent to administrators at more than 2,012 graduate programs and reputational surveys sent to more than 20,500 academics and professionals.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by Rachel Ohm

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Published March 23, 2018