ELIZANDRO: VSB rankings bring pride to school

John Elizandro

As enthralling as our basketball team’s victories have been, another one of Villanova’s flagship programs recently enjoyed an even more important feat. Villanova’s School of Business was ranked as the No. 11 undergraduate business program in the country by BusinessWeek magazine.

Due to the timing of the rankings, which coincided with the start of spring break, the ranking itself was never actually covered by The Villanovan. However, the rankings have broad implications, not just for the business school and its students, but for the University as a whole.

As many are likely aware, college rankings have become a growing industry in recent years, with various companies and websites ranking everything – from the quality of a school’s academic instruction, to the taste of its food and to the attractiveness of its students. But for years, rankings done by US News and World Report and BusinessWeek have played a critical role in shaping the perception of an institution to prospective students and corporate recruiters all over the country.

I recently was able to talk with VSB Dean Jim Danko about the rankings and their importance and to get his views on what having the 11th best business school in the country means for Villanova. Villanova School of Business, of course, is not new to the BusinessWeek rankings. Since BusinessWeek first introduced undergraduate rankings four years ago, VSB has climbed from 19th to 11th. Though many publications compile rankings of business schools, Danko views BusinessWeek as the “800-pound gorilla” of business program rankings.

What gives the BusinessWeek rankings credibility are the surveys it conducts of recruiters and recent graduates. These surveys constitute the bulk of the ranking system. Danko feels that Villanova’s high marks from the surveys are an important indication of the quality of the business school. “It reflects what our graduating seniors and recruiters say about us, and those are two critical stakeholders in the whole process,” he said.

Danko is quick to note that these rankings are far from foolproof. “They aren’t a perfect process. There are a lot of flaws in the rankings process, but my attitude as a dean is that you don’t build your strategy around rankings, but you have to be really aware of them” he said.

Flawed or not, many prospective students use these rankings to make the decisive ruling about their ultimate college choice. Highly ranked schools gain national recognition far beyond their traditional counterparts. Proof of this can be found in the application statistics for the business school over the last four years. “In recent years, applications have nearly doubled, from 2,600 to 4,600, and a lot of students have cited these rankings as important to their decision” Danko said. Not only has the number of applications increased, but the geographic diversity of the applicants has risen as well. These numbers are almost sure to rise even higher as Villanova moves to No. 11 in this year’s rankings.

Perhaps what is most impressive about Villanova’s No. 11 ranking is its ability to perform with comparatively limited resources. VSB out-performed many schools with billion-dollar endowments and huge state subsidies. These schools have far larger budgets and spend more money per student, but “if they did that analysis on a ‘pound-for-pound basis’, then we’d be in the top two or three, which really speaks to our efficiency and the effectiveness of our operation,” Danko said.

The positive implications of VSB’s high ranking are not limited to the confines of Bartley Hall. In the same way a Final Four basketball team introduces Villanova to sports fans across the country, VSB’s high profile in the business world helps raise the stature of the Villanova brand. The entire university community, faculty, students and alumni, benefits from the prestige that accompanies a nationally-ranked business program. Though VSB will surely rise and fall periodically in BusinessWeek rankings for any given year, the national recognition of our business school is something of which Villanova can be proud.


John Elizandro is a freshman business major from Radnor, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected].