Marilyn Kameen

The graduate school of education ranks among the highest ranked public schools in the country, according to a new survey by U.S. News & World Report.
Photo Credit: Ethan Black | Daily Texan Staff

The College of Education is ranked among the top 10 graduate schools of education in the nation for 2016 because of its increased focus on research, according to a University official.

U.S. News and World Report released the schools ranked within the top 10 graduate schools last week, but they plan to post exact ranking on the website Tuesday. 

UT is one of only three public institutions among the schools listed on the U.S. News ranking. Last year, the University’s College of Education ranked 10th overall and fourth among public schools. This year, it is expected the University will rank tenth overall again and move up to third place among public schools, according to senior associate dean Marilyn Kameen.

Research is highly prioritized by both the college and U.S. News and World Report officials, according to Natasha Beretvas, associate dean for research and graduate studies. 

“The more money we are spending on research, the higher the ranking,” Beretvas said. “The total research expenditures makes up 15 percent [of the ranking], but then the research expenditures per faculty member are also 15 percent, so it’s, like, double-dipped.”

The College of Education’s research expenditures have increased almost $10 million from last year, according to Kameen.

“We’re number two in the country in research expenditures for the college,” Kameen said.

Over the past year, the college has focused its research on a variety of areas, including educational psychology, teacher retention rates and racial identity in the classroom. 

For Patrick Vincent, educational psychology graduate student, the education college’s research influenced his decision to attend UT for graduate school. Many other schools lack research opportunities, which makes UT’s College of Education stand apart, according to Vincent.

“Some of the programs that I interviewed at … didn’t seem like they were at the front of all the research and understanding where the field was headed,” Vincent said. “It’s more about just creating people to go out into the workforce. Research is actually being conducted [extensively] in this department.”

The main difference in ranking between public and private institutions is based on the availability of funding, Kameen said. Private schools are wealthier because of endowments, whereas public schools such as UT rely on grants and state funds, she said.

“It’s important to emphasize the distinction between a ranking among all public and private [universities] and then what our ranking is among public universities since they’re so different,” Kameen said. “We really compare ourselves to the public universities because that’s our peer group.”

School of Architecture

After losing three prominent professors in the past year, the School of Architecture’s answer to balancing a difficult budget has been to replace two positions with entry level professors and leave one vacant.

Kent Butler, the school’s associate dean of research, passed away in mid-May and administrators said his loss will affect research moving forward this upcoming year.

The architecture program, which was ranked fifth in the nation, dropped to seventh this past year after the budget cuts were made. Steiner said you cannot lose the caliber of faculty that has been lost within the past year and also have less funding for graduate students and still be ranked as highly as before.

“We are not able to offer as many competitive packages to our graduate students now because of these cuts,” Steiner said. “Graduate assistantships will be cut back, which will also impact our research abilities.”

Administrators said the teaching budget was cut to balance the budget as well, which will have an immediate effect on the students. The number of courses will decrease and class sizes are expected to increase.

“It’s been painful to make the cuts we’ve made, but we’ve been able to make them in a systematic way with good planning and coordination,” Steiner said.

McCombs School of Business

As one of the top business schools in the nation, the McCombs School of Business may drop ranks this April once the next biennium’s budget cuts are factored in, administrators said.

Arthur Allert, assistant dean of the undergraduate programs at the McCombs School of Business, said the administration is trying to keep cuts from affecting the academic excellence of the school but that the budget cuts have been transformative, and not in a good way.

The main change students will notice is an increase in class size. Undergraduate classes were capped at 65 students, with an average class size of 49, but this fall class sizes will increase to a maximum of 70 students.

To balance the budget, the office eliminated an academic advisor and an administrator last year. The school also transferred two employees to the department of business centralization, resulting in four employee positions vacant at the school.

The undergraduate school lost about $200,000 in addition to the cost of the four employees within the undergraduate school.

College of Communication

Roderick Hart, dean of the College of Communication, said he will meet with the provost on Aug. 30 to discuss a five-year budget plan for the college.

Hart said he does not have a clear idea of how much the college will be losing for the next few years, but reductions are inevitable because the budget is not increasing.

He said the college’s administration will have to decide if it can afford to replace the position of every faculty member that leaves.

If the number of students stays constant and the college keeps losing faculty members, it has the potential to dilute the quality of education being offered, Hart said.

Another area that might be impacted is buying new technology and equipment, he said. The College of Communication is a very equipment intensive college and technology tends to be perishable. It is not clear if the college will have enough money to replace every broken camera or piece of equipment, Hart said.

“Another category of expense is facilities and maintenance,” he said. “We have a new building that we are helping to pay for.”

He said the college has been encouraging faculty to bring in more external funds in research that will create additional revenue for the budget. Hart said he has been engaged in philanthropic efforts for years even though that is only part of his job.

“I worry about it more than anything,” Hart said.

College of Education

The College of Education will be losing $835,000 in funding for the year 2011-12. The cuts will impact the college’s departments, faculty and students as it prepares to reduce unnecessary services and academic programs, said Marilyn Kameen, the college’s senior associate dean.

“We are really scaling back on hiring faculty, especially tenure track,” Kameen said. “We are not doing any hiring right now.”

Tenure or tenure track faculty members will be teaching more classes each semester, Kameen said. If a professor was teaching two classes a semester in the past, he or she will teach at least four per semester in the future, Kameen said. The college has to maximize teaching loads, because it is not able to replace adjunct or clinical professors that retire or leave, she said.

The Kinesiology Department will eliminate its aquatics course, because it is too expensive and is not a requirement for any major, Kameen said. The Kinesiology Department will also hire fewer full-time faculty and use more doctoral students to teach courses, she said.

The college will reduce the size of doctoral programs because some of them are too expensive to run, Kameen said.
Some academic programs are headed by one person and department chairs are looking to merge those with other programs, Kameen said.

Cockrell School of Engineering

The Cockrell School of Engineering will bring in 15 tenure and tenure track faculty members through next year, said Dean Gregory Fenves.

Although there have been reductions in staff, adjuncts, teaching assistants and lecturers in the past year, the school is continuing a moderate growth path for faculty hiring, he said.

The school has lost 17 percent of its operational budget in a year and a half, Fenves said, and these reductions primarily targeted staff and administration.

“In our supplemental budget, [there is a] 10- to 15-percent reduction in funding for adjunct professors and teaching assistants,” Fenves said.

Some of these reductions took place last year and some will take effect on Sept. 1, he said. These reductions have made it possible for the School of Engineering to absorb budget cuts and hire top-talent faculty that are expected to bring in more money in external research funds, Fenves said.

Fenves said the school has had a slight reduction in student advisers in the career services area but most of the reductions do not impact students.

Jackson School of Geosciences

Compared to other schools on campus, the Jackson School of Geosciences has managed to keep its head above water despite harsh budget cuts.

Spokesman of the Geosciences School, J.B. Bird, said the school faced a reduction of several staff members within the dean’s office, but did not have to cut faculty or the courses offered to students.

Research will also not be affected by the cuts, since most of the school’s research funding comes from outside sources such as the National Science Foundation, Bird said.

The school’s rankings are also not expected to change in any way, Bird said, leaving the school in good shape for
the future.

Graduate School

The Graduate School is absorbing its share of the University’s budget cuts by not filling vacated positions, downgrading positions and cutting back on print materials for new students.

Assistant Dean John Dalton said the school is an administrative unit and is only responsible for scheduling a small number of specialty classes that don’t fit into other college or school programs.

Four positions — an associate dean, the director of communication for the school, a tech position and a human resources position — have been vacated and not filled since the first cuts began in 2009, Dalton said.

He said other positions’ titles and salaries have been downgraded when possible as employees leave the University and their spots have to be refilled.

“The crux of what we are doing is staff based, and those are the most difficult cuts to make,” Dalton said. “People still here are doing more work for the same pay.”

He also said the school has reduced the cost of printed material for incoming graduate students by moving much of the material online. The school was able to reduce the book-length material that cost $13,000 to print each year to a single front-and-back page that costs $775 each year.

The School of Information

The School of Information will cut 10 percent of its teaching assistant positions this fall semester to balance its budget, administrators said.

Dean Andrew Dillon
said the School of Information made cuts where it could, but found flexibility within the TA program and also had to cancel a new position that would have accelerated research within the school — the associate dean of research.

“There’s no doubt our competitors are doing better than we are,” Dillon said. “The uncomfortable part of this is we don’t know what the next few years will bring. It’s that lack of ability to plan the future which adds to the disquiet and it’s the worry that it could get worse.”

Dillon said he dreads the future because if further cuts come, the school will not be able to distribute the cuts, and will have to target individuals.