Both the GW Law School and the Graduate School of Education and Human Development jumped several notches from last year in rankings released last week by U.S. News and World Report.
The law school went from 23rd to 20th in the nation and the school of education went up seven spots to tie for 30th.
“Up is always nice,” said GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. “It’s important that we do not take it all to seriously, because things that go up sometimes go down.
“U.S. News rankings are not an accurate thermometer,” he said. “However, it does give you a hint of where we are going . to 19th, 18th, 15th.”
GSEHD Dean Mary Futrell said the school of education received a higher ranking this year because it has increased research funds and graduates are exploring more areas in the field of education.
“We are very excited about the change,” Futrell said. “We were surprised to go up seven notches.”
She said graduates work in counseling, elementary, secondary and higher education, administration, special education, early childhood development and education policy.
Futrell said the improvement was based partially on an increased visibility of faculty through publications and leadership positions on a national level.
GW Law School Dean Jack Friedenthal said he does not put much faith in the ranking process.
“I am one of those people who believe the rankings are artificial,” he said. “(The rankings) are not based on the things that you can’t measure, the relationship between faculty and students and how much the students learn.”
Friedenthal said the law school has improved during the years.
“Are we a better school than we were 10 years ago? Yes,” he said. “We have a premier faculty, terrific students. That’s what really makes up the school – the students, the faculty.”
Friedenthal said the improvement to the library, which has been given increased funds and a stronger staff, helped the rankings.
“I’d put us in the top 10, not the top 20,” Friedenthal said.
This is the first year U.S. News ranked public affairs programs. The public administration program in the School of Business and Public Management and the public policy program in the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences combined to tie for 20th in the nation.
Joseph J. Cordes, director of the graduate program for public policy, said the University has many public policy programs and that the Elliott School of International Affairs should have been acknowledged, too.
“I think this is good news for the University and will spark interest in certain programs,” he said.
U.S. News ranked health professions for the first time this year. The physician assistant program at GW tied for fifth, the rehabilitation counseling program placed in a three-way tie for eighth and the speech pathology program tied for 36th.
Trachtenberg said rankings do not make a university.
“We are, as far as I am concerned, number one,” he said. “If people feel that way about themselves, then they are.
“I think (the improvements are due to) a lot of hard work by the faculty, the administration, more recognized faculty publications and more conspicuous students.”
Trachtenberg said the University is under review by the American Association of Research Libraries.
He said he hopes GW will be inducted “as one of the finest research libraries in the country.”
U.S. News ranked Yale University’s law school number one. The Teachers College at Columbia University and University of California-Berkeley tied for the top spot in education. Syracuse University was ranked best in public affairs.