U departments ranked 2nd-most productive in nation

Emma Carew

A report on faculty productivity released late 2007 in the Chronicle of Higher Education listed three University departments second-highest in the nation.

The Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, created by Academic Analytics, ranked American studies, geophysics and veterinary medical sciences as second out of 375 Ph.D. granting intuitions.

on the web

For a complete listing of University departments and their rankings, go to http://chronicle.com/stats/ productivity/page.php?year=2007&institution=1910 &byinst=Go.

Marketing manager for Academic Analytics Stefanie Altman said the rankings are based on five factors: book publications, journal publications, citations by other articles and grants and awards given to faculty members.

“It’s essentially an administrative data tool,” she said. “University program heads can look at it, and look at areas of strength and weaknesses in the faculty.”

The rankings were created in 2005 by Lawrence Martin, dean of the graduate school at Stony Brook University, Altman said.

Vice Provost for faculty and academic affairs Arlene Carney said the FSP Index isn’t the only ranking system used by colleges in the U.S.

“This is the latest one,” she said, “It’s a relatively new system of ranking, and like all systems it has its pros and cons.”

The University, like other colleges around the country, is waiting for the next report from the National Research Council, the most prestigious collegiate ranking system, Carney said.

Within the FSP Index, “the particular units who came up high are highly productive units with wonderful faculty,” she said, “but because of the techniques used, it also misses other departments that are extraordinary departments as well.”

Some of the departments that weren’t ranked high on the FSP Index but were previously ranked high on the NRC report are psychology, economics, and chemical engineering, Carney said.

Ranking faculties can be difficult, she said, especially with departments such as art, where it’s difficult to rank venues and where publication of journal articles may not be given as much weight.

Riv-Ellen Prell, professor and chair of the department of American studies, said the department was very pleased to find they ranked high on a national scale.

“We feel very good about this,” she said. “This is a wonderful reflection of what we know, which is that we have a highly productive faculty, deeply engaged with our scholarship and very committed to our work.”

Prell said the department ranked higher than the number one department, Yale, in four out of the five categories.

The rankings “have a very real effect on the students who take our courses,” she said. “(They) are working with faculty who are very much at the cutting edge of the field, and we’re very proud of that.”

David Kohlstedt, chair of the geology and geophysics department, said a high ranking is good for the department internally and externally.

“(It) gives us visibility at the national level,” he said. “It’s good for recruiting graduate students. Students tend to be sensitive to these kinds of polls.”

The staff can feel proud of the work they’ve done, Kohlstedt said.

The high national ranking also gives the department legs to stand on if they go to central University administration seeking new faculty positions or budget funds, he said.

“It gives us a statement,” Kohlstedt said. “This is a really high quality program, and one that the University should be proud of.”

Kohlstedt said his department is currently looking to add people in the area of biogeosciences.

“We can say, look we have a lot of strength in that area already,” he said. “It’s an accumulation of events, showing you really do have an excellent reputation outside (the University).”