U.S. News overlooks SBPM

GW’s School of Business and Public Management was not ranked among this year’s U.S. News & World Report‘s top 50 graduate business schools, despite reported efforts to gain admittance into the magazine’s top tier.

SBPM administrators have conducted a campaign to be placed in U.S. News‘ annual ranking of top graduate schools, according to The Washington Post.

Susan Phillips, who became SBPM’s dean last spring, said though rankings are important, she thinks they are only one indicator of a program’s merits. Phillips said the school always is looking for ways to improve its reputation and the programs it offers, but she does not feel GW’s business school has made any extraordinary efforts to boost its ranking.

GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said any measures taken to increase the school’s ranking have not come at the expense of its academic programs.

“GW always strives to be the best it can be and I don’t see what is controversial about that,” Trachtenberg said. “We are just putting an emphasis on the business school right now.

“(Improving the schools within the University) is a continuing process moving through all the various academic departments,” he said. “We can’t improve everything at once. It’s like walking – if you move your left foot and your right foot at the same time, you fall down.”

Trachtenberg said he would like to see the business school ranked by the magazine, but he thinks improving the quality of the programs offered by the school is the best way to do that.

“I think you improve programs and the rankings follow,” Trachtenberg said. “If you’re good, you’re good and it doesn’t matter about the ranking and if you’re bad, you’re bad and it doesn’t matter about the ranking either. The best of both worlds is to be good and to have people know you’re good.”

The business school spent $1.5 million in financial aid for 1998’s incoming students, eliminating financial need as a basis for aid, according to The Post. Phillips said aid increased because more students accepted offers of admission to the program than administrators anticipated.

The article also asserted that critics of the school’s efforts to improve its rating say the University is reluctant to pay more than $75,000 to a faculty member. The critics said the salary is not high enough to attract “top business talent” to the school, a notion at which Phillips balks.

“There are no salary caps,” Phillips said. “Obviously anybody would like to have higher salaries, but it does not affect the caliber of professors teaching.”

Phillips said she hopes the school will be ranked as one of the best in the country soon, but she is not going to go to extraordinary efforts merely to accomplish that goal.

The GW Law School faced a similar fate in the U.S. News rankings. Last year, the school was ranked No. 20 but it dropped to No. 25 this year.

Roger Trangsrud, associate dean for academic affairs at the law school, said the magazine initiated a new method for ranking schools. For the first time, U.S. News considered the cost of living in a school’s city. As a result, many city schools were replaced by rural schools at the top of the list, Trangsrud said.

He said the data the school submitted for this year’s rankings were virtually the same as last year.

“We were disappointed but nothing detrimental has happened to our school,” Trangsrud said.

-Francesca Di Meglio contributed to this report.

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