The University has dropped from its number-two spot in this year’s U.S. News & World Report public university rankings, out last month, coming in behind the University of California at Berkley and the University of Virginia at number three.

While none of the categories that the rankings are based on have suffered a significant drop, a few have declined slightly during the past few years. The University’s number of classes with fewer than 20 students has gone down 2 percentage points in two years, from 48 to 46 percent.

Small classes have become more of a luxury at the University due to state budget cuts.

Alumni giving has also decreased 2 percent in the same time frame, despite a $100-million dollar donation last year from Stephen M. Ross to the Business School, now named for him. Also dipping in the statistics were the University’s peer assessment score and graduation and retention rankings.

Another reason the University is now the number-three public university is the slightly improved scores of the University of Virginia, which was bumped up from three to two.

Former University Provost Paul Courant said that while it was an honor for the University’s achievements to be recognized in the magazine, the rankings could not always give an accurate portrait of the University.

“As pleased as we are with this recognition, I think it important to recall that no simple set of statistics can capture adequately the nuanced strengths and weaknesses of a large and complex institution like (the University),” Courant said in a written statement.

University spokesman Joel Seguine said the yearly ranking of schools does serve its purpose for college-shopping high school students, but reiterated Courant’s point that they are not always accurate.

U.S. News & World report releases the college guide every August, along with a guide to graduate schools in the spring. Statistics such as graduation rates, student-to-faculty ratios and SAT scores of the incoming freshmen class are used to calculate an overall score for each school. The University, with an overall score of 75 out of 100, came in as the 25th best college in the nation — a ranking it has held for a few consecutive years now, with the exception of last year’s 22nd place.

A new ranking this year called the Washington Monthly College Guide placed the University at number 10 in the nation. Instead of looking at alumni donations and retention rates, the new guide, according to the Washington Monthly website, prefers colleges that enrich the country rather than colleges with good academic statistics.

“Universities should be engines of social mobility, they should produce the academic minds and scientific research that advance knowledge and drive economic growth, and they should inculcate and encourage an ethic of service,” the website says.

Large state schools dominate the top of Washington Monthly’s list, instead of schools like Harvard and Princeton, staples for the top few spots in the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

A score was given to each school for community service based on the percentage of students in the Army or Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps, the percentage of students in the Peace Corps and the percentage of work-study grants committed to community service.

Other deciding factors were the number of doctorates awarded in science and engineering and the graduation rates for universities with many students with Pell Grants, which indicates the retention rate of lower-income students.

Number one on the list is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which, according to the website, was chosen not for its renowned research but for its commitment to community and national service.

The Washington Monthly added on its website that the country would be in better shape if schools adhered to these rankings instead of rankings done by U.S. News & World report.

“Other guides ask what colleges can do for you. We ask what colleges are doing for the country,” the site reads.

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