When looking for a good graduate program, most people focus on the adviser. After all, with as individual-driven as graduate school is, having an adviser who checks in every once in a while and cares is a nice thing to have. However, I don't think most people think about the department. That's probably because there's no help there. It's probably the case that wherever you go, the department doesn't care about you or its classes. The department will do its best to screw you over. The department will put you through hell... but maybe that's their job. Maybe everyone gets a good hazing as a rite of passage on the way to joining academia.
I suppose it could be worse. One thing I didn't realize as an undergrad is how much the department really really doesn't care about them. Undergrads are a little bit like the coppertops of The Matrix; they plug in and go about their lives not ever realizing that they're just there to generate revenue. There's no social good. There's no professional obligation to educate young professionals. It's all about the money.
One day I sat in on a meeting of large donors to The College. A marketing person from The College or The University gave a PowerPoint presentation on improving the ranking of The College. One major topic of discussion was about which pictures to put on the front of brochures that are mailed out to other Colleges who contribute to the rankings ("Ah, yes, but what type of people both become engineers AND become deans of engineering colleges? Maybe engineers prefer charts, but deans prefer pictures of people walking on grass!" (no joke)). Another topic was how many graduate students to accept in order to maximize one variable in a large formula that contributes to ranking. Too few graduate students and you have too few research dollars being spent, but too many and the professor-to-student ratio is all upset. No talk of "excellence" or anything like that. All about marketing and presentation. Oh... why was I there? I had to sit and be pretty so the old donors had some young people to talk to during the dinner.
Welcome to a research I university.