Alessandro Roco

A quick look at some past rankings: No. 11 ranked engineering program in the non-doctoral degree category by U.S. News & World Report. No. 1 university in the north region for the 16th consecutive year, also by U.S. News & World Report. Notice anything?

Villanova has always had a reputation for being a superb university for liberal arts, one that focuses on individualized attention and boasts some of the best professors in the region.

But part of that reputation has always carried the designation of a “regional university” or has been limited to colleges without doctoral programs. The University has, to a certain degree, been pigeon-holed as a quality school in Somewhere, Pa.

On Thursday, however, the College of Commerce and Finance took one big step in the University’s concerted effort to nationalize its reputation.

In its inaugural ranking for undergraduate business programs, BusinessWeek ranked C&F No. 19, over such notables as Boston College, Penn State and UCLA, and within reach of certain notables as Carnegie Mellon, Cornell and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

In the total ranking, approximately 1,400 undergraduate programs were evaluated, 80 of which were then more carefully analyzed for the BusinessWeek ranking.

James Danko, dean of the college of C&F, said to those who attended a reception celebrating the national ranking, that no matter the ranking, the College has always been dedicated to quality.

“A ranking like this one really puts us on the national scale now,” Danko said. “And we really feel like this recognition is what we’ve deserved. We know that our goal is to continually represent ourselves by the quality of our faculty, students and alumni, but it is nice to finally be recognized.”

He added, “When I left Dartmouth to come to Villanova, they told me that ‘Hey, at least you won’t have to worry about rankings anymore,’ but look at us now.”

Rev. Peter Donahue, O.S.A, scheduled to take over as University president shortly, offered a congratulatory note to C&F.

“I’m very glad and excited that they are getting the recognition they’ve deserved over the past few years,” he said.

Bethany Anderson, assistant dean of marketing and strategy for C&F, was a major factor in recognition of the college.

For the rating process BusinessWeek conducted, it was her job to compile all the data.

Her main job is to advertise and market C&F, so she recognizes that this new ranking system will mean big things for the College.

“This new ranking is great because it really puts undergraduate business education at the forefront,” she said. “With the usual ranking systems, like U.S. News & World Report, there has always been such a focus on the great M.B.A. programs of the country, so seeing this will definitely widen everyone’s perspective on the quality of an undergraduate program.”

She said that the huge focus on M.B.A. programs over the past several years may have been due to BusinessWeek’s first-ever ranking of M.B.A. programs, released in 1988.

She noted that prior to the rankings, the focus was mainly on undergraduate programs, but more recently, the focus had shifted to M.B.A. programs.

However, Anderson said that the emphasis should really be put on undergraduate education, as opposed to graduate education, because “about three-fourths of people hired in the business world are those with undergraduate degrees, while only about a quarter actually have that MBA.”

She added, “It seems that the new ranking system has made the ‘what to focus on’ come full circle. Before the emphasis was really heavy on M.B.A. programs, but now it’s both undergraduate and graduate programs.”

John Johannes, assistant vice president of academic affairs, said that the rankings make the University, and especially the business school, even more attractive to everyone.

“People definitely notice these kinds of things and this kind of recognition,” he said. “It is especially exciting to alumni because now they can take an exceptional pride in the fact that they came from this school.”

Johannes also noted that the alumni and its contributions to the University are front and center when it comes to the University’s progress.

“They are the ones who provide ideas, give money back to the school, and also give of themselves back to the school,” he said. “They are the ones who notice the value of the rankings because the value of their diplomas is contingent upon the current status of the school they went to.”

On Thursday, however, it seemed that current students were the ones most amazed and excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for the University and the College.

Nick Seibert, a sophomore finance major, said the latest ranking “confirms what we already knew, that we are a nationally competitive school. It’s great because it especially gives credit to our school on high places such as Wall Street.”

Mark Bradford, another sophomore finance major said that the rankings were great because they showed where the University is in comparison to other highly touted universities.

Bradford is especially excited about the rankings because “we got to beat BC yet again.”

In the BusinessWeek ranking system, many factors were included in determining the quality of the undergraduate program.

Factors included nationwide student and recruiter surveys, starting salaries for business graduates, SAT and ACT scores, faculty-to-student ratios, average class sizes, experiential learning opportunities and academic rigor.

The top five undergraduate programs, as ranked by BusinessWeek are Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania at No. 1, McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia at No. 2, Mendoza School of Business at Notre Dame University at No. 3, Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at No. 4 and Goizueta Business School at Emory University.