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UB breaks into Top 100 nationally in U.S. News & World Report rankings

The University at Buffalo has climbed into U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Top 100 national universities, ranking No. 99 in the 2016 edition of the magazine’s annual survey of “America’s Best Colleges.”

UB moved up four spots from No. 103 in last year’s publication. The influential but controversial rankings hit newsstands Wednesday.

Princeton retained the top spot, followed by Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford and the University of Chicago – the same order as in the 2015 edition.

Three other State University of New York institutions finished higher than UB. Stony Brook, Binghamton and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry all came in at No. 89. UB was ranked No. 44 among the nation’s top public universities, also up four spots from last year’s list.

U.S. News & World Report separately ranked comprehensive colleges and universities by region of the country. In the North, among 135 ranked schools, Villanova University came in at No. 1. Two schools from New York are in the Top 10: Rochester Institute of Technology at No. 7 and Ithaca College at No. 9. SUNY Geneseo was the highest-ranking Western New York school in the North region at No. 14, followed by St. Bonaventure University at No. 24, Canisius College at No. 34, Alfred University and Niagara University at No. 47, SUNY Fredonia at No. 66 and SUNY Buffalo State at No. 122.

Canisius officials said the college’s ranking, which dipped from No. 27 in 2015, was based in part on incorrect data. U.S. News reported Canisius’ rate for retaining its freshmen at 68 percent, when it is actually 86 percent. College officials said they believe that the discrepancy, even in just one category, would have a major effect, especially in the North region, where schools tend to be bunched together.

The magazine examined 1,800 colleges and universities across the country and assigned rankings to 1,376 schools. It weighed factors such as graduation and retention rates, class sizes, admissions test scores and per-student spending on instruction, research and student services.

It also asked high school guidance counselors and administrators of peer schools to rate schools’ academic programs.

U.S. News & World Report debuted its rankings more than 30 years ago. College administrators have long criticized the rankings for rewarding the wealthiest and most selective schools, while failing to measure an institution’s actual effectiveness.

Yet because of the continuing popularity of the rankings and a raft of others in its wake, many schools also try to take advantage of the positive exposure of a high ranking on their websites and in marketing materials.

UB officials sent out a news release noting that the university’s position in the annual U.S. News survey has “steadily increased” since 2009, when it was No. 121, and highlighting some of its year-to-year gains in performance measures. The release also included a statement from UB Provost and Executive Vice President Charles F. Zukoski.

“At UB, we deliver academic excellence through exceptional educational opportunities and impactful research,” Zukoski said. “Our students learn from the top scholars in their fields and participate in research projects, cultural and community engagement activities. We are very pleased that our distinctive programs and commitment to excellence have been recognized again by U.S. News & World Report.”