After a change in methodology for a reputable ranking of colleges nationwide, the University of Hawaii at Manoa can now call itself a top-tier school.
The university’s flagship Manoa campus is the 159th-best school in the nation out of 262 rated, placed in Tier 1 of the annual U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges list.
But the publication used to rank with a four-tier system. The top-tier schools used to be ranked among the top 50 percent in the nation. This year the publication switched to a two-tier system, now calling schools in the top 75 percent the top tier and the bottom 25 percent, which used to be known as the fourth tier, the second tier.
"This change will also reduce ranking volatility, since far fewer schools will now drop in and out of the numerical rankings in any given year," the publication said in releasing the list. "We believe dropping the third tier and having a first and second tier will make the Best Colleges rankings less confusing for all users."
In reality, UH-Manoa has dropped a few spots in the rankings. Last year the school was ranked 146th. In 2009 it was ranked 145th. UH-Manoa was 157th in 2008, while in 2007 the school was 154th in the nation.
"It’s just a chance in the methodology," said Tim Merrill, interim program officer for UH-Manoa’s vice chancellor of academic affairs. "The ranking is consistent with what we’ve seen in the past."
The Manoa campus tied with seven other schools for 159th place: Adelphi University, Florida Institute of Technology, Texas Tech University, University of Maine, University of Maryland — Baltimore County, University of North Dakota and Widener University.
"These rankings are a useful tool as we assess and improve our academic and student success programs," said Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw in a statement.
UH-Manoa’s programs have been recognized for excellence in more specific listings. U.S. News & World Report ranked the College of Education 50th in its Best Graduate Schools program earlier this year.
The university’s Shidler College of Business undergraduate program ranked 19th in International Business in the publication’s 2009 Best Colleges list.
The publication weighs factors like graduate and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving and graduation rate performance. For the first time ever, high school counselors are now given a say in the rankings.
The largest factor in the rankings comes from the school’s reputation among other schools, Merrill said.
The university’s Hilo and West Oahu campuses and Brigham Young University in Hawaii made it as second-tier schools in the National Liberal Arts Colleges list.
Hawaii Pacific University was ranked 68th in the list for universities in the western region, out of 85 in the top tier.