The U.S. News and World Report college rankings came out this week and it was not good news for one Capital Region institution. The University at Albany continued to fall behind the other New York "University Centers"; Stony Brook, Binghamton and Buffalo in gold standard of national university rankings. For more than a decade there have been rumblings of concern by faculty and alumni about the academic direction of the school. Once a proud research institution with a stout business school, UAlbany is now struggling to be recognized academically.

UAlbany - YouTube.com
UAlbany - YouTube.com
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After last year's rankings, the institution boasted about being ranked #33 nationally in social mobility which is outstanding. However, when it comes to academics, the campus that sits on the edge of the City of Albany appears to be swimming upstream. The University of Buffalo had the closest ranking at #89. The problem is that #89 is nearly 100 spots better than Albany, which came in at #182 out of #443. Albany was the only SUNY "University Center" not in the top 100 and they weren't even close.

UAlbany YouTube.com
UAlbany YouTube.com
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This is going to become a bigger problem for Albany as they battle with the rest of the SUNY schools when it comes to funding. According to newsday.com, in January, Governor Kathy Hochul referred to Stony Brook and Buffalo as the state's "flagship" institutions. That left Binghamton and Albany wondering where they fit in. Binghamton however was ranked 2nd overall of the SUNY's, coming in at #83 nationally and has a nationally ranked business school. To use a horse-racing metaphor, that leaves UAlbany looking at the back of the pack, as they pull away.

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Stony Brook boastfully came in at #77, tops in the Empire State. Now some New York law-makers are proposing a name-change for the Long Island school to "University of New York." “Stony Brook is a great state university, but it’s not a national brand, and because of that we lose out,” New York State Assemblyman, Mike Fitzpatrick told the state editorial board according to . “We play small ball as a state when it comes to college sports, and that costs us dramatically in excitement. But not having a flagship also has an implication of ‘less-than.”

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Fitzpatrick is looking for the SUNY system to name one flagship school, like Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State, Texas and so on. Then institutions like Albany would be named University of New York - Albany. It's a great idea but it should have been done decades ago. The re-branding alone would cripple the SUNY system. They could spend that money on updating classrooms, dorms and dining halls across the state. Long and short, Albany had better find some academic direction and commit to it soon or they will just become a big New York State satellite school. That would be a true shame.

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