Bryan Horwath, Forum News Service, Published September 13 2013
Dickinson State only public four-year ND college not ranked on national listDICKINSON, N.D. – Whether due to a mix-up or computer error, Dickinson State University was not among the thousands of higher education institutions numerically ranked in the annual U.S. News & World Report list of colleges and universities.
Released Tuesday, the list ranks the other seven North Dakota four-year institutions in either its national or regional categories. DSU is listed as RNP, which stands for rank not published.
“The way we’re publishing the rankings, we’re interpreting rank not published as being in the bottom quarter of its category,” Bob Morse, director of data research for U.S. News, said on Wednesday. “We’re viewing that as (DSU’s) ranking, even though it’s not numerically ranked. So, we consider (DSU) to be in the bottom 25 percent of the regional colleges – Midwest category.”
Morse said part of the reason why DSU landed on the RNP list was that it did not return a survey sent out by U.S. News in June.
“RNP is different than being unranked, meaning they don’t have any ranking or position relative to other schools,” Morse said. “Dickinson State didn’t return the survey. When that happens, we use estimates for its data that we get from other public sources.
“One question is how far off our estimates are from the school’s real data,” he said. “Maybe they’re somewhat close, maybe they’re very low. But since the school chose not to make its data public, we can’t really say. Would (DSU) likely have been helped by offering its data? Yes.”
DSU spokesperson Marie Moe stated in an email Thursday that the survey data was possibly not updated in a federal database.
“We surmise that perhaps the time lag between submission of the (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) data and the update of federal databases may not have allowed U.S. News to access the federal data needed for review and confirmation of information required to calculate a rating for DSU,” she wrote.
Moe added that staffing turnover at DSU could also have contributed to confusion over the submission of survey information.
In a follow-up conversation on Thursday, however, Morse said he was certain that U.S. News had not received DSU’s survey information for its top colleges list.
Morse added that of the nearly 1,400 schools that received the survey nationwide, about 9 percent did not send data back. Many of those, he said, were private institutions.
“I don’t know why (DSU) chose to not return the survey, but I know they didn’t,” Morse said. “It’s rare for a school to not get back to us, though some choose not to.”
The rest of North Dakota’s four-year schools ranked among other regional colleges were No. 35 University of Jamestown, No. 43 Valley State University and No. 58 Mayville State University. State regional universities included Minot State University, ranked 105th, and the University of Mary, ranked 86th.
Jamestown and U-Mary are private institutions while the others are state-funded schools.
Grouped in the national universities category, the University of North Dakota was ranked No. 173 and North Dakota State landed at No. 190.