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UB GRADUATE PROGRAMS FAIL TO IMPRESS U.S. NEWS

If U.S. News & World Report handed out grades in its latest rankings of the top graduate programs at American universities, the University at Buffalo would get about a "C."

The School of Management and the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences aren't in the magazine's lists of the best business and medical schools.

And the schools of Law, Engineering and Education placed in the bottom half of their respective rankings.

Only UB's Pharm.D. program, in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, ranked near the top of any of the magazine's lists, placing 17th in its category. "It recognizes quality. It recognizes value. The students recognize this is a good program," said Wayne K. Anderson, dean of UB's Pharmacy School.

The U.S. News rankings may be the most popular among the scores of college lists put out each year.

School officials generally grumble that the rankings are based on an unscientific methodology but concede the lists are closely watched by prospective students and their parents, and administrators are quick to tout a favorable ranking.

"We should take this with a pinch of salt, in terms of the process," said UB Provost Satish K. Tripathi. But, he said, rankings provide a "focus" for the school's strategic planning process. "I'm looking forward to getting those numbers improved," Tripathi said.

Anderson said the high ranking for UB's Pharm.D. -- a six-year, entry-level doctor of pharmacy degree -- is gratifying given the program dates to 1999.

"I think this really says we got off to a big, quick start in terms of the quality of the program," Anderson said.

The Pharm.D. rankings are based solely on how highly the program was rated in a survey of pharmacy faculty and administrators at college campuses.

The other rankings take into account peer assessment scores but also are calculated using factors such as how selective the school is in accepting students; the scores those students earned on standardized tests; and faculty-student ratio.

The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is ranked 56th in the country, the same as in last year's U.S. News listings. The Graduate School of Education ranked 66th, down four spots from last year; and the School of Law rated 77th, an improvement of five places.

The School of Medicine didn't rank among the top 64 medical schools based on their research nor among the top 62 schools rated for primary care.

U.S. News didn't include UB's School of Management among the 88 best business schools.

UB doesn't fare as well compared with other programs in the categories of peer assessment, average starting salary after graduation and the percentage of graduates employed when they leave school, Management Dean John M. Thomas said.

The Wall Street Journal last September, however, rated UB 15th among the 44 "regional" business schools. That ranking is based on a survey of corporate recruiters.

The rankings of graduate and professional programs at American universities are available at the Web site www.usnews.com. The rankings also are included in the magazine's newest issue and in a book that goes on sale Monday.

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com