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Chancellor: Higher Rankings May Pay Dividends To UNCW

By Jenny Callison, posted Mar 15, 2019
UNCW's McNeill Hall houses a variety of the university's nursing programs. (Photo by Jenny Callison)

Having two University of North Carolina Wilmington graduate programs rise in the U.S. News & World Report's graduate school rankings will likely benefit the university, its chancellor said Thursday. Both UNCW's master's degree in nursing and master's degree in public administration programs moved up 12 points on the publication's lists.

The university's part-time MBA and its master's degree programs in social work and education remained on the publication's rankings as well, at roughly the same levels as they have been, Chancellor Jose Sartarelli said. Being included on these widely read rankings generates wider awareness of the university.

"People start paying more attention to [the school]," Sartarelli said, adding that, for most people interested in a particular degree or school, "the only way to ascertain whether a program is good or not is rankings."

How much the higher rankings of UNCW's nursing and public administration master's programs will pay off in terms of increased applications, Sartarelli said, is hard to know, but he cited one instance from his tenure as dean of West Virginia University's College of Business and Economics.

"We got one of our programs ranked in the top 100 [nationally] and saw a flood of applications afterward," he said.

Another result of having nationally ranked programs can be increased donations.

"There is no question" that rankings can affect giving, Sartarelli said. "If we publicize them -- and we publicize them a lot -- it creates a degree of pride. People get more excited about it. One thing I have been doing [regarding the program rankings] is to publicize them as much as possible and talk about them whenever I can."

Since becoming chancellor in July 2015, Sartarelli has advocated for more graduate programs - especially Ph.D. programs - at the university. He is leveraging UNCW's coastal location to argue for the one at the top of his list.

"We are focusing on trying to get new Ph.D in marine science," the chancellor said, explaining that the program would offer a broader scope of marine study than UNCW's current marine biology Ph.D. program, bringing together the study of marine-related biology, chemistry, physical science, environmental science and geology.

"Our marine biology program, which was established in 2002, has been very successful, but it's focused only on biology," he said.

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