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Board will avoid rankings dialogue

Board of Visitors members said yesterday they do not plan to discuss the University's drop to the nation's No. 2 public university in the annual U.S. News and World Report college rankings at the Board's meeting next month.

"I've been to one meeting" where the agenda for the Board's October meeting was discussed, University Rector John P. Ackerly III said. "I haven't heard any discussion about it."

Other Board members said they were concerned about UC-Berkeley's jump over the University to the No. 1 public university spot, but were unsure whether the Board could affect any change on the issue.

"It's obviously disappointing to see it happen," Board member James C. Wheat III said. "Overall, I don't see the rankings affecting any policy."

Wheat said he thought it was unlikely the Board would take any specific steps at their October meeting to improve the University's ranking.

"I don't think we ever at U.Va. have done anything just to say we're No. 1," he said.

Board member William H. Goodwin said the Board probably would not address the issue at its next meeting.

"I doubt very seriously the Board will talk about it," Goodwin said. "We've got much more important things we can control."

Fellow Board member Walter F. Walker said the Board will take action to make the University better, regardless of the rankings.

"I disagree with the methodology of the rankings and I think it's arbitrary," Walker said. "As a Board, we'll do the best we can to be the best university in the country."

UC-Berkeley Regent Ward Connerly said while Berkeley is pleased with its jump in the rankings, he also attaches little significance to the rankings in general.

"A lot of this is phony," Connerly said. "Some of the questions [in the poll] are irrelevant to the quality of the institution."

Board members and University President John T. Casteen III both said increased state funding is necessary to improve in areas judged by U.S. News and World Report.

"We are weak on two factors that count in the ratings - resources per faculty member and expenditure per student," Casteen said. "The weakness was caused by state funding reductions early in the decade."

He said the University's Capital Campaign is the main way to provide money to compensate for the lack of public funding.

"We have made progress toward replacing this money through the Capital Campaign," he added.

"The best guess is that completing the process of rebuilding our financial capacity would take another five years if done by way of fund raising."

Board member Charles M. Caravati Jr. agreed with Casteen's assessment of the University's current funding situation .

"We simply don't have enough public money to hit that one category [of public funding] and it's not likely to happen soon" Caravati said. "It's out of the University's control."