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 April 24, 2000

Education Programs Fare Well in Rankings

The Neag School of Education is receiving high marks for its elementary and secondary teacher education programs. For the first time in the school's history, the programs are ranked among the top 25 in the nation, according to U.S. News &World Report.

"We've made significant progress in a very short amount of time," says Richard Schwab, dean of education. "It is our goal to become one of the top 10 schools of education in the country. Although we still have progress to make, these new rankings show we are headed in the right direction."

The school's elementary teacher education program is ranked 19th - the only school in New England in the top 25. Only four schools in the northeast made the list: Columbia University (3), Penn State University (16), and the University of Pennsylvania (22).

Among secondary teacher education programs, the Neag School ranked 23rd. The only other New England school on the list is Harvard, which is ranked 22nd. Two other schools in the northeast made the rankings - Columbia (5) and Penn State (11).

For the second year, the Neag School of Education's overall ranking is 47th out of 187 graduate education programs in the country. Several years ago the school did not make the list.

"We have done very well to be rated as one of the top 50 institutions overall," says Schwab. "Turning around takes time. With the addition of the Neag funding, we'll be able to attract scholars and graduate students of national and international prominence and provide them with the kind of support that is necessary to keep us moving to the top."

U.S. News &World Report released its annual evaluation of graduate schools in its April 10 issue.

The University of Connecticut School of Law was also listed among top law schools in the nation, ranking 41st. The school is the only public law school in New England in the top 50 and one of only five schools in the region ranked as a top-tier law school.

The University's speech/language pathology program was ranked 21st and audiology 25th.

U.S. News &World Report based its analyses on data collected from more than 13,000 surveys sent to graduate school deans, program directors and senior faculty. Some of the factors taken into account are test scores, research expenditures and reputation.

Schwab attributes the Neag School's positive rankings to several factors including: the school's close links with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, its partnerships with public schools, and the graduates who are making a difference in classrooms.

But above all, says Schwab, "our faculty worked as a team to develop a strategic plan. We identified our centers of excellence and reallocated our resources for these key programs. We knew we already had distinguished programs in elementary and secondary education, but with the critical teacher shortage facing the state, putting more resources into these programs became a top priority for us."

Last spring, the school received $21 million from alumnus Ray Neag, the largest donation in UConn's history and the largest gift to a school of education in the nation.

Schwab says he is particularly encouraged by the rankings because the school has not yet had an opportunity to invest the funds generated by the Neag gift. Some of these funds will be used to endow two chairs - one in literacy, the other in special education with a focus on children's behavior disorders. A national search is currently underway to fill those positions.

Janice Palmer