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UA, Eller College of Management move up in national rankings

Lili+Steffen%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0AStudents+walk+through+the+UA+Mall+to+get+to+class+on+Monday.+The+UA+has+moved+up+in+rankings+for+U.S.+universities.
Lili Steffen
Lili Steffen/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Students walk through the UA Mall to get to class on Monday. The UA has moved up in rankings for U.S. universities.

The UA has moved up to number 119 in the U.S. News and World Report’s rankings of the nation’s best colleges.

The Eller College of Management’s business program moved up from No. 24 to No. 22 in the rankings.

Thanks to exceptional research, world-renowned professors and successful alumni, the UA is being noticed and recognized in the scholarly world, said Anji Siegel, director of Special Programs for Management Information Systems in the Eller College of Management. Accessibility to student resources and undergraduate research have also boosted the UA’s rankings. The UA pulled in more than $454 million from academic research last year, an amount that is continuing to grow, according to the UA’s annual fiscal report.

“Many factors go into rankings such as the recent ones released by U.S. News & World Report, including our academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, admissions selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving,” said Angela Baldasare, director of Divisional Assessment and Research with Student Affairs. “All of these are elements that the University of Arizona focuses on as a world-class university, with Academic Affairs and Student Affairs working in close partnership.”

Returning freshmen are also factored into the ranking, according to Baldasare, who said 80.2 percent of 2011 freshmen returned to the UA their sophomore year. This was a growth of 3.9 percent from the prior year.

“We are still waiting for the official numbers for this year, but we expect to see this trend continue,” Baldasare said, adding that the UA is working on engaging all of its students in real-world experiences where they can apply what they learn in the classroom.

One college focused on such real-world experience is Eller College, according to Paulo Goes, the department head of Management Information Systems at the college.

Siegel agreed, adding that with its research and personalized programs, the college is an exceptional learning environment.

“I think the entire college has made a considerable effort to concentrate on what we are calling the ‘Eller Experience,’” Goes said. “This is to really help the students in any way we can. I think we have a group of great advisors and we have designed programs to really address the need[s] of the students and, most importantly, we connect them with the industry so they all get jobs.”

One such program is the Zipperman Scholars Program, funded by UA alumni Walt Zipperman. The program targets freshman and sophomore pre-business majors at the top of their class.

“We invite them to participate in this program, which involves field trips and activities where they see technology being utilized,” Goes said. “One of the highlights of the program is taking them to a Phoenix Suns game. We meet with the Phoenix Suns’ executives and they give the students a tour and explain how they use technology in their business.”

The development of a new program, Management Information Systems Plus, is also currently in progress, and it is expected to be available by next year. The program is designed to reach out to freshmen and sophomores to prepare them for Eller. This is just one innovation that will continue boosting the UA’s rankings, according to Goes.

Eller College is also constantly looking for areas in need of improvement, according to Siegel. The department is currently working on helping more students with financial aid.

“There’s always room for improvement. We just received a $5.4 million grant on cyber security and big data,” Siegel said. “Part of that money is going toward full-ride scholarships for undergraduates, so that will help our perception for the rankings. We can also engage more with students and professional development services.”

The U.S. News and World Report rankings will not only attract new students to the UA, but will also reinforce positive perceptions for current students, according to Baldasare.

“We believe this commitment to experiential learning will provide UA students with the skills and knowledge to have successful careers and be leaders in their future endeavors,” Baldasare said. “It will really set UA graduates apart.”

– Follow Emily Bregger @ebregger_news

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