The University of Arizona

UA Faculty Earn High Marks for Productivity

By La Monica Everett-Haynes, University Communications | December 4, 2007

A new report suggests that faculty are more productive than in years past in several diciplines, which also indicates strength in doctoral programs.

J. Leon Zhao, interim department head and professor for management information systems
J. Leon Zhao, interim department head and professor for management information systems
Colin Kaltenbach, dean and director of the Arizona Agricultural Experiment Station
Colin Kaltenbach, dean and director of the Arizona Agricultural Experiment Station

A new report says faculty in two dozen disciplines at The University of Arizona are so productive that their work helps make certain programs better than others across the nation.

All told, 24 UA disciplines took top-10 rankings and four took first place in the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, which evaluates doctoral programs based on how productive faculty are in their scholarly work.

That's an improvement from the six UA disciplines that made top 10 status last year.

The index takes into account the number of faculty an institution has in each discipline measured, the percentage of faculty members who are published is scholarly journals and how many citations each faculty member is able to generate.

It also considers the amount of federal funding faculty members earn and how often they receive awards and honors.

Run by a company with connections to the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the index then compares each university with comparable institutions for a score. The recently-released report ranks 375 institutions and more than 7,400 doctoral degree programs.

The UA took first place for plant pathology, management information systems, various areas in agriculture and also a discipline that falls under composition, rhetoric and writing.

The index does not always reflect department names, sometimes referring simply to areas of research.

“I am very pleased to see that CALS (the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) has ranked very high in the faculty productivity index for the second year in a row,” says Colin Kaltenbach, dean and director of the Arizona Agricultural Experiment Station.

“This attests to the high quality and strong work ethic of our faculty," Kaltenbach said.

Depending on the discipline, the number one rankings placed the UA ahead of schools such as Michigan State, Texas A&M and University of California, Berkeley

“I believe that we have a highly dedicated group of faculty, who take pride in generating high-quality research output,” said J. Leon Zhao, interim department head and professor for management information systems in the UA Eller College of Management.

“The new data simply reveals a secret we already knew,” said Zhao, whose department has ranked in the top 5 among peer institutions in prominent national ranking systems for years.

“High productivity is expected of the research faculty without question,” he added. “Nevertheless, this recognition is welcomed and will further energize our faculty and our graduate students to give their best efforts going forward.”

Other disciplines that took top-5 spots are plant sciences, soil science, entomology, teacher education subject areas, linguistics, Near and Middle Eastern languages and cultures and clinical psychology.

Alfred Kaszniak, psychology department head and professor, said this is a testimony of faculty efforts in teaching, research and service to those in the Southern Arizona community and beyond – especially because of the grants faculty are able to lure.

“These grants enable important research to be conducted in their laboratories, on topics that are of great concern to the people of Arizona and the entire nation,” Kaszniak said, pointing to research on Alzheimer's disease, substance abuse, sleep disorders, relationships and other topics.

Other UA disciplines on the top-10 list include anatomy, oncology and cancer biology, toxicology, engineering mechanics, geological and mining engineering, systems engineering, nutrition sciences, speech and hearing sciences, natural resources and conservation, applied mathematics and applied physics.

“It is important to note that faculty research productivity also makes an important contribution to our teaching excellence,” Kaszniak added, “since active and well-funded laboratories provide multiple training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.”