DeSantis visits UF to tout top 5 ranking

For the first time in UF’s history, the school broke into an elite category—one of the nation’s top five public universities.

At a Monday morning event featuring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other dignitaries at UF’s Emerson Alumni Hall, UF President Kent Fuchs announced that today’s 2022 U.S. News & World Report reached a new mark of excellence.

“Today is truly a historic day in the history of the University of Florida,” Fuchs said in his opening remarks. “We have the privilege of announcing and joyfully celebrating an amazing milestone for our university and indeed a milestone that has been generations in the making. This remarkable milestone was achieved because of the shared commitment of the state of Florida and the University of Florida community and the focused efforts of many who came before our time.”

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UF has steadily moved up the rankings since 2017, when it was at No. 14. Last year, the university climbed to No. 6.

This year, U.S. News and World Report has UF tied at No. 5 with the University of California-Santa Barbara and the University of North Carolina. The top four are the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) at No. 1, the University of California-Berkeley at No. 2, the University of Michigan at No. 3, and the University of Virginia at No. 4.

UF President Kent Fuchs at press conference

“The University of Florida set a goal of becoming a top-ranked university more than seven decades ago,” UF board chair Mori Hosseini said. “Over the years, some people doubted we would reach top-10 status. Then four years ago, they were proven wrong when the U.S. News and World Report ranked us No. 9 among public universities. But there were still those who said it was a fluke and we couldn’t get any higher, and that such a goal was too audacious. Then three years ago, those people were proven wrong again when U.S. News ranked us No. 8.”

Hosseini called the achievement “the result of hard work, perseverance, a culture of excellence and an undeniable conviction that the University of Florida was on a rapid trajectory.”

DeSantis pointed out that 10 years ago UF was barely in the top 20. He added that even though the Legislature provided finances to the university, it takes more than that.

“There is probably very little correlation to simply throwing money into education institutions and getting a huge benefit unless you have standards, metrics and leadership,” DeSantis said. “We’ve provided support, but they have provided results.”

According to U.S. News, the report ranks 1,466 U.S. bachelor’s degree-granting institutions on 17 measures of academic quality that include graduation and retention rates, affordability, student access to quality instructors, teacher-to-student ratios and financial resources. Fuchs noted that more than 100 different metrics are tracked to influence the rankings.

Syd Kitson speaks at UF press conference

“Success at the University of Florida not only elevates the entire state university system, but it elevates the state of Florida,” Florida Board of Governors chair Syd Kitson said. “Congratulations to Mori Hosseini, president Fuchs, and to the many people who have worked so hard to make UF the world-class institution that it is today.”

What’s next? At a post-conference media event, Fuchs said one of the next goals is to hire 100 faculty in areas related to the artificial intelligence field.

“We were the only university in the entire nation that grew the faculty by 500, due to the support of our state Legislature and governor, over the past several years,” Fuchs said. “That resulted in the rising in our rankings with the other metrics.”

He said the top-five ranking will build more momentum at the university.

“You actually become more excellent because of having moved into that category,” Fuchs said.

In the U.S. News report, Florida State came in at No. 19 and the University of South Florida broke into the top 50 at No. 46.

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