Rankings shift for business, engineering schools

The U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 rankings were issued for the undergraduate program’s of both the St. Thomas Opus College of Business and the School of Engineering, each ranking jumping in the opposite direction from 2012.

The St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business undergraduate program increased from No. 185 to No. 117. The School of Engineering undergraduate program decreased to No. 69 from No. 51, but Donald Weinkauf, the School of Engineering dean, said he is still happy with the ranking.

“Just to be considered in this group is great,” Weinkauf said.

The rankings are based on a peer assessment from spring 2012. To be ranked, the university must have a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

“The rankings are, in totality, basically a reputational score from other engineering deans,” Weinkauf said. “I view it as being on the radar of a large percentage of deans around the country, that we’re doing good work.”

The School of Engineering celebrated its 25th anniversary last April. Junior engineering student Anthony Meschke attributed the rankings to the professors.

“Professor involvement is a big part; they are very hands-on helping students with projects and make sure that their classes relate to a specific thing,” Meschke said.

Sophomore engineering major Tom Tincher said he appreciates the equipment availability.

“It helps that they keep the labs open late,” Tincher said. “You got people working here until three in the morning.”

Dennis Stephens, School of Engineering adjunct professor, said he gives credit to the professors, but also thought students are playing a significant role in the high rankings.

“The incoming students are more qualified, more interested and better equipped,” Stephens said.

Opus College of Business

The Opus College of Business became eligible for the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings last year after it received accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business in April 2011.

Finance professor David Vang said the School of Business deans took what was learned from the 2012 rankings and made improvements this year.

“When you’re the first new kid, as I said, no one’s going to know you and I expect us to continue to increase,” Vang said.

Senior accounting student Megan Gustafson also thought the program made improvements since last year’s rankings.

“We have finally gotten into the groove,” Gustafson said. “The business school has mastered the requirements for each major.”

Gustafson said the business program’s professors helped increase the rankings.

“We have great professors that really try to get us thinking about real world experiences,” Gustafson said. “They want us to take so many different classes to really stretch our minds about what is happening in the world around us.”