Stony Brook University moved up to 31st place in U.S. News...

Stony Brook University moved up to 31st place in U.S. News & World Report's latest ranking of the nation’s institutions of higher learning. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

U.S. News & World Report released its latest ranking of the nation’s institutions of higher learning Monday, with Stony Brook University receiving its highest placement in “the history of this publication,” school officials said in a statement.

Nationally known institutions such as Princeton, MIT and Harvard, Williams College and the University of California at Berkeley continued to hold top-ranked positions on lists of national universities, liberal arts colleges and public universities in the magazine’s 2023 Best Colleges rankings. Stony Brook University rose 16 places to 77th among national universities, and up seven spots, moving from 38 to 31, among public universities.

In a statement the SUNY system’s flagship university said these are the highest rankings it has ever received in “the history of this publication” and the first time it has alone been ranked the first in public university's statewide.

The United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point was ranked 3rd in the regional university north category, while New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury was ranked 22nd, Farmingdale State College 24th, Molloy University in Rockville Centre 40th and SUNY Old Westbury 124th.

Hofstra University and Adelphi University were ranked among national universities, with standings of 166 and 182. Long Island University was ranked between 331 and 440.

Molloy University was also ranked 49th as a best value in the north region.

“Value rankings are at the heart of what we do at Molloy, and they speak to our mission and our commitment to help and serve our students and the communities where they live and work,” said Jim Lentini, Molloy’s president, in a statement.

Hofstra officials also said they were proud of the university's ranking, especially its 29th ranking in the country among non-doctoral degree granting engineering programs.

While universities and colleges use the rankings as a way to market to prospective students, not everyone in the academic community approves of the ranking guides, which include selectivity (the percentage of applicants who are admitted) and assessments by other institutions as part of their calculations.

Lynn Pasquerella, president of the American Association of Colleges & Universities, with about 1,000 members ranging from unranked community colleges to top-ranked Princeton University in New Jersey, said that while the rankings were deemed useful in marketing and recruiting prospective students, there was growing skepticism among the academic community about their validity and impact.

She questioned the utility of assessments by university administrators about other institutions of which they know little, and echoed a recent criticism by U, S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona that such rankings are based, Pasquerella said, on a “false sense of prestige rather than a transformative power of the education that is offered, especially in relation to social mobility.”

She added, “There is still a direct correlation with endowments, and prestige is often measured by the number of students you turn away when it is more important than ever that we increase access.”

She said skepticism is based in part on some institutions “gaming the system,” such as disclosing faulty information or, for example, scheduling large classes in the spring because they know the rankings for small class size are based on the fall term

“There are many faculty and administrators who condemn the rankings and what many call an arms race in encouraging students to apply to institutions knowing there is no chance they will get in,” she said, citing marketing by top schools to students whose applications they quickly reject, in order to boost application numbers. “That’s because applications matter and it will contribute to their ranking in U.S. News & World Report. We shouldn’t base rankings on how many students you can turn away but on how you can transform the lives of the students you’ve admitted.”

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