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News : Entomology graduate program fares well in NRC evaluation

Entomology graduate program fares well in NRC evaluation
by Greg McClure Purdue News
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More than half of Purdue University’s 46 programs included in a national evaluation of doctoral programs in the United States are highly rated in their respective disciplines.

The National Research Council report, released Tuesday (Sept. 28), evaluated and ranked programs using a 5th and 95th percentile range. Twenty-five Purdue programs are in the top 20 in the 5th percentile, and seven are in the top 20 in the 95th percentile.

The NRC evaluation was based on data collected on more than 5,000 programs in 62 fields at 212 universities during the 2005-2006 academic year. Information was obtained by the NRC through questionnaires sent to doctoral faculty, heads of doctoral programs, administrators and students.

“This evaluation is a positive way to allow our graduate programs to use current data, compare it to the NRC data that was collected five years ago and see where they are now,” said Mark J.T. Smith, dean of Purdue’s Graduate School.

Data on 20 different characteristics formed the basis for five sets of rankings: overall (survey-based, or S), overall (regression-based or R), research activity (survey-based), student support and outcomes (survey-based), and diversity of the academic environment (survey-based).

In the NRC’s survey-based rankings by faculty peers, Purdue’s entomology, forestry and natural resources, food science, aeronautics and astronautics, comparative literature, linguistics, and agricultural economics programs all had a 95 percent chance of ranking in the top 20.

“This report makes it clear that there is strength that spans the breadth of Purdue’s graduate programs,” Purdue Provost Timothy Sands said. “The evaluation includes extremely valuable information. We’ll use this to help us identify strengths and weaknesses that will guide us in the allocation of resources in the future.”

On the regression-based rankings, the NRC quantified the uncertainty by calculating the rankings of each program 500 times. Those rankings were then sorted, and the lowest and highest 5 percent were excluded. The 5th and 95th percentile define each program’s range of rankings.

The survey-based rankings are solely criteria based, while the regression rankings include a reputational component.

In the regression rankings, nine Purdue programs had a 95 percent chance of ranking in the top 20: entomology, foods and nutrition, food science, forestry and natural resources, aeronautics and astronautics, civil engineering, electrical and computer engineering, industrial engineering, and agricultural economics.

The research activity rankings examined publications, citations, the percent of faculty holding research grants and recognition through honors and awards. Purdue’s programs in food science, forestry and natural resources, horticulture, wildlife and aquatic sciences, aeronautics and astronautics, American studies, comparative literature and linguistics had 5th percentile rankings in the top 10.

Sixteen programs at Purdue had 5th percentile rankings in the top 10 in the student support and outcomes category, which measured percent of students fully funded in the first year, the percent of students completing their degrees in a given time period and expected placement in academic positions. The programs were entomology, food science, forestry and natural resources, foods and nutrition, basic medical sciences, aeronautics and astronautics, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, materials engineering, comparative literature, history, Spanish and Portuguese language and literature, agronomy-soils, atmospheric science, agricultural economics, and linguistics.

The diversity ratings reflect the percent of faculty and students from underrepresented minority groups, the percent of faculty and students who are female and the percent of students who are international. Twelve Purdue programs had 5th percentile rankings in the top 10 in these rankings: forestry and natural resources, horticulture, basic medical sciences, neurobiology and physiology, aeronautics and astronautics, industrial engineering, comparative literature, agronomy-soils, mathematics, agricultural economics, linguistics, and political science.

Purdue offers 81 graduate programs.