Criminology Chair Tom Mieczkowski was attending a conference in Atlanta when he caught word that his department had been ranked No. 7 in the nation for faculty productivity by a leading higher education magazine.
“We were really pleased and very happy and proud – it’s a really nice thing,” Mieczkowski said. “It’s a comment on the quality of the faculty in the criminology department and their productivity.”
In the rankings – released by the Chronicle of Higher Education on Nov. 16 and part of the weekly news magazine’s third annual survey measuring academic departments for faculty productivity – other departments fared well, including the College of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, ranked 10th nationally, and the Department of Communication Disorders and Sciences, and the Department of Oncology and Cancer Biology, which both ranked eighth.
In the study, productivity was determined by the number of scholarly articles and books the programs’ faculty produced, the amount of grant money and awards their faculties received, and the number of times their faculties were cited in other books and scholarly
The rankings are also indexed to the number the faculty employed by an academic department, so they are not based solely upon the amount of publications and citations associated with a department, according to the Chronicle’s Web site.
Mieczkowski hopes the ranking will attract talented faculty and students to University’s criminology program, as graduate students and prospective faculty who engage in research are attracted to
research-oriented departments, which are reflected by such statistics.
“Certainly young, bright faculty want to come someplace where it’s a progressive and productive environment,” he said.
There are about 1800 undergraduates studying criminology and 100 to 120 graduate students, about 40 of whom are doctoral candidates, according to Mieczkowski.
Bob Sullins, dean for undergraduate studies and interim chair of adult, career and higher education, was similarly pleased.
“We know the faculty has done a good job, and it’ s nice every now and then to get external confirmation of that,” he said.
Vice Provost Dwayne Smith, a professor in the Criminology Department, thought the rankings reflected an accurate measure of productivity because they took the number of faculty in a department into account, describing the Chronicle’s inter-department measures as “comparing apples to apples.”
He said the status of the recognized departments as relative underdogs in funding and resources when compared to competing institutions merited added praise.
“For all these departments that were on that list, we’re really very under-resourced compared to them, making this accomplishment particularly notable,” Smith said.
Sherman Dorn, president USF’s chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, said he was glad to hear that several departments were ranked among the top ten, but that the survey might not be an accurate measure of productivity for all scholarly disciplines.
“It’s more appropriate for areas where there are frequent publications,” he said, adding that the rankings emphasized short-term research and recognition of grant-awards and honors.
He said disciplines with shorter turnaround times for book or article publication, such as psychology, may have been favored by the study, whereas a discipline like history – where research can take years – probably was not.
Dorn also stressed that the rankings of some departments didn’t mean other departments were unproductive.
“That doesn’t mean that other areas are doing poorly,” he said. “It’s a commonly known fact of life that one art of the job of the administration is to publicize the successes with the amount of evidence that they have available.”