Joining the ranks

Naval Academy recognized for engineering program and professor accessibility

August 25, 2006|By Bradley Olson | Bradley Olson,sun reporter

Several national publications gave high marks to the Naval Academy this week for top-flight engineering and chemistry programs, accessible professors and its "stone-cold sober" campus.

The engineering program has long won national renown, and this year it was ranked third by U.S. News and World Report among institutions that don't grant doctorates. The academy tied for third in that category with the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., and Cooper Union in New York City. Two private schools tied for first: Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif., and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind.

William Miller, the school's academic dean, said in a written statement that he was pleased with the results, but he stressed that the academy is "first and foremost a leadership school." Miller has stressed recently that the academy is trying to beef up teaching of language and cultural expertise to midshipmen, in hopes of gaining the national recognition it has garnered in the engineering and leadership areas.

In the Princeton Review's recently released Best 361 Colleges, the Naval Academy ranked second in the nation for having accessible professors, just behind the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Bruce Fleming, a Naval Academy English professor, confirmed the importance of professor accessibility, noting that any student can get plenty of face time with full professors, who also teach courses for freshmen, a rarity at large public universities.

The Princeton Review also placed the Annapolis military college fifth in the "stone-cold sober" category, despite this summer's rape trial during which several midshipmen testified to binge drinking in Annapolis.

Rankings for The Best 361 Colleges are based on surveys administered to more than 100,000 students attending the colleges in the book. The U.S. News rankings are based on the judgments of deans and senior faculty at major universities who are familiar with the specific programs.

The chemistry department was ranked 17th best in the nation by the latest edition of Chemical and Engineering News magazine, a ranking that school officials hope will climb in coming years.

Mark Elert, who chairs the department, said in a news release that the rank is likely due to recent changes in the curriculum that offer more flexibility and choice to students in the major. The highlights of the new program include introductory courses in all the traditional areas of chemistry, elective courses and a major research project.bradley.olson@baltsun.com

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