Intercom Online......September 16, 1999

Penn State one of top five
universities in Gallup Poll list

Athletic department
ranked No. 1

Penn State is ranked fifth with Yale, Notre Dame, Duke and the University of California at Los Angeles as the best university in the United States, according to a new Gallup Poll. Penn State is second only to Harvard as the best university in the United States, according to respondents living in the eastern United States.

Harvard, which topped the list, is chosen by more Americans than any other school as the best university in the country. Perceptions about the top colleges vary significantly by region of the country.

The views of the average citizen can be contrasted with the annual Best College rankings just released by U.S. News & World Report -- in which Penn State was ranked 40th overall. The U.S. News rankings are based on a complex statistical formula, including such factors as academic reputation, retention of students, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate and alumni giving rate. The academic reputation component of the U.S. News formula is based on the perceptions of the academic elite: college presidents, deans of admissions and provosts.

The Aug. 3-4 Gallup Poll, by contrast, was much simpler. It asked a random sample of all Americans to name -- off the top of their heads -- the best university in the United States. The responses give a good sense of the degree to which a group of elite universities dominate the perceptions of Americans, according to Gallup.

Harvard is mentioned by about one out of six Americans (16 percent) as the best university. Stanford was the second in the list of colleges mentioned by Americans, with only 4 percent of all mentions, followed by MIT and Princeton, (3 percent each). Five other schools were nominated by 2 percent of Americans: Penn State, Yale, Notre Dame, Duke and UCLA; while all others received only 1 percent of mentions or fewer.

To read more, go to the Gallup Poll's Web site at http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr990824.asp.

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