Rice University again makes U.S. News & World Report annual list of top schools in the country. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Houston's Rice University keeps reaping accolades. This time around, it's been named one of the best national universities by U.S. News & World Report.

Rice ties for No. 17 on the U.S. News & World Report list of the top 40 national universities. Last year, Rice tied for 16th place.

The only other Texas school to make this year's list is the University of Texas at Austin, tied for No. 38. Princeton University in Princeton, Jersey, claims the No. 1 spot.

U.S. News says the list, released September 13, features a mix of research institutions that offer an array of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs.

"Students and faculty continue to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it's through remote learning, mask-wearing, or vaccine requirements," Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer at U.S. News, says in a news release. "As communities work through these challenges, U.S. News is committed to providing information on the academic quality of institutions across the country, so prospective students and their families can make informed decisions throughout their college search."

U.S. News assesses colleges and university on 17 measures of academic quality. These include class sizes, graduation and retention rates, academic reputation, and availability of financial aid for students.

The U.S. News ranking follows several other kudos for Rice:

  • It appears on the Princeton Review's recent list of the 387 best colleges in the U.S. The Princeton Review does not rank schools individually.
  • Niche.com recently ranked it the seventh best college in the U.S.
  • The school ties for No. 15 in the most recent Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings.

The plaudits come ahead of David Leebron's departure next year as president of Rice. He's held the job since 2004.

"I am so grateful to Rice University for this incredible opportunity and to you, the extraordinary people who make up the Rice community and who have time and again demonstrated our common values and commitment to excellence, creativity and compassion," Leebron wrote in a May 26 email to faculty and students. "Working together, we have been driven by our desire to contribute to the betterment of our world and by our constant ambition to become an ever better university."

No other city in Texas comes close to grabbing so many top national rankings. Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Houston hospitals once again dominate annual national rankings

top health care

It stands to reason that as home to the Texas Medical Center, the world's largest medical complex, Houston would be blessed with outstanding hospitals. New national rankings from U.S. News & World Report show just how true that is.

The rankings put Houston Methodist Hospital at No. 16 among the best hospitals in the country, and at No. 10 for gastroenterology and GI surgery. Meanwhile, Houston's University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center tops the list of the best hospitals for cancer care, and claims the No. 4 spot for urology and No. 5 spot for gynecology.

Elsewhere in Houston, TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital appears at No. 2 for rehabilitation, Texas Children's Hospital lands at No. 3 among the best children's hospitals, and the Menninger Clinic ranks eighth for psychiatry.

No other city in Texas comes close to grabbing so many top national rankings from U.S. News & World Report.

Houston Methodist Hospital climbed four spots in this year's overall ranking, up from No. 20 last year.

"This is a tremendous achievement for our physicians and employees who dedicate themselves every day to our patients — especially now as we celebrate this news during another surge in the pandemic," Dr. Marc Boom, president and CEO of Houston Methodist, says in a news release.

"These national accolades are something to be proud of, but most important, our patients are benefiting from all of our hard work," Boom adds. "Ultimately, they are the reason we need to be one of the best hospital systems in the country."

MD Anderson once again leads the way in the cancer category, while also earning high marks for urology and gynecology.

"This year's ranking is especially rewarding considering the exceptional teamwork and collaboration we have seen throughout our institution during an unprecedented pandemic that created heightened risks for immunocompromised cancer patients," Dr. Peter WT Pisters, president of MD Anderson, says in a news release.

"No matter the challenge, we are here for our patients, for each other, and for our community. We thank everyone for their unwavering support that has helped us earn the top ranking in cancer in the midst of a pandemic," Pisters adds.

TIRR Memorial Hermann climbed in the rehab ranking from No. 3 last year to No. 2 this year.

"The methodology for the rankings have evolved to include more aspects of quality in addition to reputation, which is extremely meaningful to our employees and affiliated physicians," Rhonda Abbott, senior vice president and CEO of TIRR Memorial Hermann, says in a news release.

"With our ranking improving this year, it confirms our focus on patient outcomes and the quality of care that we strive for with all of our patients in need of rehabilitation," Abbott adds. "While the rankings sometimes fluctuate from year to year, they tell the story that we at TIRR Memorial Hermann are leaders in rehabilitation through our focus on research, education, clinical care, and advocacy."

Texas Children's Hospital scored a third-place ranking nationally among children's hospitals, matching its showing on last year's list. This is the 13th consecutive year that it's been recognized among the best children's hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

"Our best is something we strive for each day, caring for our patients — not looking back at what we accomplished but towards what we can do tomorrow," Texas Children's Hospital says on its website.

Also in this year's top 10 for specialty hospitals is the Menninger Clinic, which jumped from No. 9 last year to No. 8 this year. The facility has secured a place in U.S. News & World Report's top 10 for psychiatry since the inception of the rankings.

"Our specialty is precision mental health and substance use care," Armando Colombo, president and CEO of Menninger, says in a news release. "Patients seeking care from [us] are looking for the best diagnostics and effective evidence-based treatment that's right for their goals and symptoms."

"We have a wide range of specialists who provide new solutions as well as proven, cutting-edge treatments for a positive outcome that the patient can sustain to enjoy improved overall health and a better life," Colombo adds.

Texas Heart Institute at Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center ranked 13th in the nation among Adult Cardiology & Heart Surgery hospitals.

"We are the highest-ranking heart and cardiac surgery center in Houston, Texas, and we are proud to be back on top," says Texas Heart Institute's assistant medical director, Dr. Stephanie Coulter, in a release.

Texas Children's is once again listed as tops in the nation in a new ranking. Photo courtesy of Texas Children's Hospital

Beloved Houston children's hospital once again named top in nation by prestigious report

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Innovative and pioneering, Texas Children's Hospital has landed on many a best-of list. The latest is a ranking of the best pediatric hospitals in the nation by the prestigious U.S. News & World Report.

Texas Children's ranks an impressive No. 3 in the publication's 2021-22 Best Children's Hospitals Survey. The beloved Houston center is named as the best place in the country for children in need of pediatric cardiology and heart surgery care for the fifth year in a row.

By the numbers, eight of the hospital's subspecialties rank within the top five. No other pediatric hospital in Texas has achieved an overall ranking as high as Texas Children's 13 years, the hospital notes. U.S. News also ranks the top 50 pediatric hospitals across 10 major subspecialties each year.

To that end, Texas Children's is one of only 10 children's hospitals across the country to achieve the publication's Honor Roll designation, and the only hospital in the state of Texas awarded this distinction.

The hospital earns the U.S. News Honor Roll distinction by ranking as one of America's best in:

  • No. 1 Cardiology & heart surgery
  • No. 2 Neurology & Neurosurgery
  • No. 3 Nephrology (Kidney disorders)
  • No. 3 Pulmonology
  • No. 4 Cancer
  • No. 4 Gastroenterology & GI Surgery
  • No. 5 Diabetes & Endocrinology
  • No. 5 Urology
  • No. 11 Neonatology
  • No. 11 Orthopedics

More than 1,000 surgeries and 1,400 cardiac catheterization procedures are performed in the hospital's Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower, the home of the Heart Center, each year. Texas Children's is globally recognized for its research and treatments in pediatric cardiology and heart surgery; visitors hail from across the globe to receive the cutting-edge treatments.

U.S. News Best Children's Hospitals rankings rely on clinical data and on an annual survey of pediatric specialists. The rankings methodology factors in patient outcomes, such as mortality and infection rates, as well as available clinical resources and compliance with best practices.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Here's what Houston schools have been lauded for training the city's future leaders. Photo by skynesher/Getty Images

These are Houston's 4 best high schools in 2021, says recent report

REPORT CARD

t's report card time, and four Houston high schools have made the grade, earning top 100 spots in this year's prestigious U.S. News & World Report rankings of the Best U.S. High Schools. One even merited a special distinction.

Houston's Carnegie Vanguard High School ranked highest on the list at No. 42. The school is ranked fifth within Texas. The Advanced Placement coursework participation rate there is 100 percent; total minority enrollment is 77 percent, and 31 percent of students are economically disadvantaged.

Following close behind is the prestigious DeBakey High School for Health Professions at No. 46 overall. The renowned medical prep school boasts an AP participation rate of 98 percent, total minority enrollment is 88 percent, and 44 percent of students are economically disadvantaged.

Farther down the list is Challenge Early College High School, at No. 89 overall. The AP participation rate here is 100 percent, total minority enrollment is 92 percent, and 76 percent of students are economically disadvantaged.

At No. 97 overall is Young Women's College Prep Academy. The AP participation rate here is 100 percent. The total minority enrollment is 97 percent, and nearly all students — some 96 percent — are economically disadvantaged.

The 2021 edition is U.S. News' most comprehensive survey yet, with the consumer advice outlet evaluating more than 17,800 public high schools on how well they serve all of their students, regardless of economic or ethnic background.

To determine rankings, they focus on six factors: college readiness, reading and math proficiency, reading and math performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth, and graduation rates. College readiness specifically measures participation and performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.

Notably, the data used in this edition is from the 2018-2019 academic school year, so it was not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Families can use the Best High Schools rankings to see how schools compare at the national, state and local level on factors like graduation rates and college readiness," said Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News, in a statement. "The rankings also provide insight into academic performance among underserved groups showing how well schools are supporting these students."

Eight more Texas schools also appear on the national top 100 list:

  • No. 13, School for the Talented and Gifted, Dallas
  • No. 15, Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School, Dallas
  • No. 39, The Science and Engineering Magnet School, Dallas
  • No. 41, Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Austin
  • No. 42, Carnegie Vanguard High School, Houston
  • No. 46, DeBakey High School for Health Professions, Houston
  • No. 59, Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet, Dallas
  • No. 68, IDEA Frontier College Preparatory, Brownsville
  • No. 89, Challenge Early College High School, Houston
  • No. 96, Health Careers High School, San Antonio
  • No. 97, Young Women's College Prep Academy, Houston
  • No. 98, Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, Austin

Just over the top 100 threshold is Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy, coming in at No. 101.

Texas had 1,524 schools ranked this year, of which 42 placed in the top 5 percent, 79 in the top 10 percent, and 157 in the top 25 percent nationally.

Statewide, the top 10 highest ranking schools were:

  1. The School for the Talented and Gifted (TAG), Dallas
  2. Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School, Dallas
  3. Science and Engineering Magnet School (SEM), Dallas
  4. Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA), Austin
  5. Carnegie Vanguard High School, Houston
  6. DeBakey High School for Health Professions, Houston
  7. Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet, Dallas
  8. IDEA Frontier College Preparatory, Brownsville
  9. Challenge Early College High School, Houston
  10. Health Careers High School, San Antonio

So, which school throughout the country ranks as this year's valedictorian? Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia was deemed the best in the country, as well as among magnet schools. Read the full report and search for schools here.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Houston is a good place for creators of digital content, such as podcasters, bloggers, writers, and strategists. Photo by Laurence Dutton/Getty Images

Houston named national hot spot for this tech career, says report

DIGITAL DOMINANCE

The Greater Houston area ranks as one of the hot spots in the country for an in-demand area of tech expertise.

A new report from career website LinkedIn looks at an array of career categories exhibiting the highest year-over-year growth rates in hiring (based on the period from last April to October).

The report pinpoints Houston as one of the hottest U.S. markets for creators of digital content, such as podcasters, bloggers, writers, and strategists. For those looking to transition, the majority of these digital content creators have a bachelor of arts degree, while some 25 percent have a masters, the report notes. Top skills for these positions include editing, writing, public speaking.

Meanwhile, DFW is listed as a "top region" for UX specialists, including UX consultants, designers, and researchers along with the San Francisco Bay area and Greater Chicago area. (What, exactly, is UX? While the field and job can have many facets, one industry site puts it this succinctly: "UX design is the process of designing (digital or physical) products that are useful, easy to use, and delightful to interact with.")

The Austin area ranks as one of the hottest spots in the U.S. for artificial intelligence (AI). The report says jobs like artificial intelligence specialist, machine learning researcher, and machine learning engineer are in particularly high demand in the Austin area, as well as Denver and San Francisco Bay.

In 2019, the tech sector in Texas wielded an economic impact of $141.7 billion and employed more than 1 million people (including AI engineers, UX designers, and digital content creators), according to CompTIA, a trade association for the IT industry.

"Technology powered job growth and economic gains in the past decade in Texas and across the country while delivering countless benefits in how we work, communicate, create, and share," Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA, said in a 2020 release.

U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Texas at Austin among the country's top five schools for undergraduate students studying AI, an arm of computer science that simulates human intelligence.

Globally, AI is a fast-growing specialty among employers. A 2020 report from the World Economic Forum identified AI and machine learning positions as the No. 1 emerging category of jobs. Ninety-three percent of U.S. companies surveyed by the organization indicated they had adopted AI technology.

In 2019, job website Indeed reported that average salaries for the highest-paid AI jobs in the U.S. ranged from $109,314 to $142,859.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Rice has risen to the top again. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Rice University rises to top of Texas schools in prestigious U.S. News & World Report ranking

Head of class

Rice University continues to rise in national surveys. The latest: U.S. News & World Report's 2021 Best Colleges, released September 14, anoints Rice as the best university in Texas. The prestigious Houston school — dubbed the "Ivy League of the South" — ranks No. 16 among national universities, up one spot from last year.

This is in step with last year's U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges list, which also named Rice the best university in Texas.

The trusted report compared more than 1,400 undergraduate institutions across 17 measures of "academic quality" this year. Acknowledging the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on students and schools, the publication made several updates to its methodology, notes a release.

For 2021, U.S. News added two new metrics to measure student debt. It also increased the weight of the outcome category, which measures graduation rates, retention rates, and social mobility, and reduced the weights for standardized test scores, high school class standing, and alumni giving. And, for the very first time, the report ranks test-blind schools (those that don't require an SAT or ACT score for admission).

"The pandemic has affected students across the country, canceling commencement ceremonies and switching classes from in person to remote," said Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer, in a release. "Whether students have slightly altered their college plans or changed them entirely, it remains our mission to continue providing students and their families with the tools they need to help find the right school for them."

Now, on to the rankings. Here's how Rice scores in the prestigious report:

  • No. 6 in Best Undergraduate Teaching
  • No. 8 in Best Value Schools
  • No. 18 in Most Innovative Schools (tie)
  • No. 224 in Top Performers on Social Mobility (tie)
  • No. 19 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (tie)

For 2021, the University of Texas at Austin ranks No. 42 nationally, up a significant six spots from 2020. It's also the school's highest ranking on the report since 1985, touts a news release from the university. Among the country's public universities, UT Austin climbed four spots from the previous year, landing at No. 13.

As for Texas' other top schools, Southern Methodist University and Texas A&M University are tied at No. 66 nationwide, while Baylor University and Texas Christian University rank No. 76 and No. 80, respectively.

The lofty U.S. News & World Report ranking is just the latest in accolades for the Owls. Rice was recently named the seventh best college in the U.S. and the best college in Texas by Niche.com.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Overheard: Experts share how Houston can lead commercial space exploration

Eavesdropping in houston

Is the Space City poised to continue its reign as an innovative hub for space exploration? All signs point to yes, according to a group of experts.

The Greater Houston Partnership hosted its annual State of Space this week. The virtual event featured a keynote address from Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA Johnson Space Center, and a panel moderated by David Alexander, chair of aerospace and aviation committee at the GHP and the director of the Rice Space Institute.

The conversations focused on the space innovation activity happening in Houston, as well as an update on the industry as a whole has space commercialization continues to develop. All the speakers addressed how Houston has what it takes to remain a hub for the sector.

"The future looks very bright for Houston that we will remain a leader in Houston spaceflight," Wyche says in her address.

Here are a few other memorable moments from the event.

"Houston, I feel, is poised to be a leader. We have led in human space flight, and we will a leader in commercialization."

— Wyche says in her keynote address, which gave a thorough overview of what all NASA is working on at JSC. She calls out specifically how startups are a driving force in commercialization. JSC is working with local accelerator programs at The Ion and MassChallenge.

"These startups help us to connect to tomorrow's space innovation leaders, and gives our team the opportunity to mentor these entrepreneurs as we work to advance both our scientific and technical knowledge," she says.

"The ability to have a place where government, academia, and industry can come together and share ideas and innovation is incredibly powerful."

​— Steve Altemus, president and CEO of Intuitive Machines LLC, specifically talking about the Houston Spaceport, where Intuitive Machines has signed on as a tenant. Altemus adds that a major key to leading space commercialization is a trained workforce, which the spaceport is focused on cultivating.

"We shouldn't discount the character that Houston has from the standpoint as a great place to build a business."

— Tim Kopra, vice president of robotics and space at MDA Ltd., says, adding that Houston is a big city that feels like a small town. "We need to incentivize companies to come and stay," he says.

"Great cities — like great companies — understand that if you're still, you're probably moving backwards. ... I think Houston gets it in that regard."

— Todd May, senior vice president of science and space at KBR, says, adding that Houston realizes it needs to be on the offensive side to bring innovation to the game, positioning the city very well for the future.

Houston's number of 'super commuters' driven up by almost 70 percent, says new report

on the road again

Long commutes are nothing new in Houston. The average worker in Houston spent nearly 27 minutes commuting to work each day — above the national average of 26.4.

A new development in shuttling to work has developed: super commuters. In fact, the number of so-called "super commuters" — those traveling at least 90 minutes to get to work, and another 90 minutes or more to get home, is on the rise.

According to newly released data from new analysis by Apartment List of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Houston area boasts 85,000 super commuters in the region, representing 2.6 percent of our total workforce.

The number of super commuters in the Houston region grew by 68.3 percent from 2010-2019, compared to the 23.0 percent growth rate of the region's overall workforce.

Houston ranks tenth among the regions in the study for the number of super commuters in 2019.

Some 13 percent of the region's super commuters live within a 10-mile radius of downtown, says Apartment List data, demonstrating that not all super commuters travel long distances. Nationally, 13.5 percent of all workers who commute by public transit are super commuters, and transit riders are five times more likely to be super commuters compared to drivers.

In the Greater Houston region, super commuting is most prevalent in Trinity County, where 11 percent of all workers are super commuters, per Apartment List.

According to Apartment List, the rise of remote work "is unlikely to meaningfully alleviate" the long-term trend of more American workers becoming super commuters.

"Since the start of the pandemic, the fastest rent growth in large metros has been occurring in the further suburbs and exurbs, indicating that hybrid remote work arrangement[s] could create a new class of part-time super commuters," Apartment list notes.

In Texas, North Texas grew 49 percent in super commuters from 2010 to 2019.

Stockton, California, notched the biggest share of super commuters in the study (25 percent of the workforce). Elsewhere in Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area saw the largest growth rate for super commuting from 2010 to 2019 — a whopping 255 percent.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.