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45 ASBCS schools listed among nation’s best in U.S. News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–In the annual survey conducted by U.S. News & World Report, 45 of the 53 member educational institutions of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools were listed among the nation’s best.

Twenty-four of the member schools were listed in the top tier of institutions analyzed and compared in four categories. The magazine ranked the top 100 schools in each category and treats those schools as the top two tiers of institutions. Several ASBCS schools moved into the top tier this year, indicating significant progress and achievement in those schools.

Fourteen schools were listed in the third tier, and four were listed in the fourth tier. Two of the member schools were ranked in the top five among schools in their respective category with the highest graduation rates. Both Oklahoma Baptist University and Samford University were singled out for the high percentage of students who started their educational pilgrimage at those institutions and completed degrees within six years.

The national news magazine studied more than 1,400 institutions scattered across the United States, gathering data from the schools themselves and soliciting opinions from peer institutions as to their perception of quality. Using a weighting system based on what the editors believe to be indicators of excellence, they develop a ranking in four categories: Best National Universities; Best Liberal Arts Colleges; Best Universities — Master’s; and Best Comprehensive Colleges — Bachelor’s.

Their ranking is determined by analyzing data gathered on up to 15 categories of information that include things like peer assessment; average graduation rate; average freshman retention rate; percentage of classes under 20; percentage of classes over 50 and student/faculty ratio.

The ranking system also analyzes data on graduation rate; faculty resources; percentage of faculty which are full time; financial resources; freshmen in top 25 percent of high school class; acceptance rate of applying students and alumni giving. The schools are then ranked against their peer institutions and assigned a score based on the accumulated data.

The 24 ASBCS member schools ranked in the top tier were listed in Best National Universities, Best Universities — Master’s and in Best Comprehensive Colleges — Bachelor’s. Baylor University was listed in the top tier of the Best National Universities category, ranking 78th among the 249 institutions which fit the profile. These schools are evaluated based on the fact that they offer a “wide range of undergraduate majors as well as master’s and doctoral programs.” The group included 162 public institutions and 87 private institutions.

ASBCS member schools emerged in significant leadership positions within the Best Universities — Master’s category. Samford University (3rd), Mercer University (9th), Belmont University (15th), Mississippi College (25th), Carson-Newman (32nd), Union University (38th), Campbell University and Gardner-Webb University (tied for 62nd) and Cumberland College (64th) were ranked in the top tier of Best Universities — Master’s in the South. Hardin-Simmons University (42nd), University of Mary Hardin Baylor (43rd) and Houston Baptist University (57th) were ranked in the top tier of Best Universities — Master’s in the West.

Samford University was also listed among the top five in graduation rate within the category of schools.

The Best Universities — Master’s category looked at 572 schools which they determined fit into this group. The schools are those which provide a full range of undergraduate and master’s level programs but offer few if any doctoral programs.

Among institutions ranked in the category Best Comprehensive Colleges — Bachelor’s, 10 ASBCS member schools made the top tier. In the West region, Oklahoma Baptist University (2nd), East Texas Baptist University (11th) and Howard Payne (13th) were ranked as top tier institutions.

In the South region, Ouachita Baptist University (5th), Shorter College (14th), Louisiana College (33rd), Mars Hill College (38th), Bluefield College (44th), Anderson College (45th) and Blue Mountain College (50th) were listed among the best in this category.

In the Midwest region, Judson College in Illinois (51st) was ranked in the top tier. Oklahoma Baptist University was also ranked fourth in the listing of schools in this category with the highest graduation rate among the Best Comprehensive Colleges — Bachelor’s. The category includes 324 institutions which were evaluated by U.S. News and includes those schools which offer a wide range of undergraduate degrees in liberal arts and professional disciplines.

The magazine also ranked schools with outstanding undergraduate programs in business and engineering. The undergraduate engineering programs at Baylor University (21st) and Mercer University (32nd) were noted among those with the best programs.

The number of ASBCS member schools ranked in the top tier was the highest in the history of the rankings by U.S. News & World Report. Several schools moved from third tier to top tier categories, indicating strong effort on the part of administration and faculty to strengthen their reputation for quality education.

Schools ranked in the third tier in their respective categories included fourteen ASBCS member schools. Among Best Liberal Arts Colleges, Georgetown College and William Jewell College were listed in the third tier of institutions.

Among the Best Universities — Master’s; Averett University, Campbellsville University, Charleston Southern University, Palm Beach Atlantic University and the University of Mobile were listed among the schools in the South. California Baptist University, Dallas Baptist University and Wayland Baptist University were listed among the schools located in the West.

Within the category of Best Comprehensive Colleges — Bachelor’s, six member schools were ranked in the third tier. North Greenville College, Virginia Intermont College and Williams Baptist College were listed among schools located in the South region. Among schools located in the Midwest region, Hannibal LaGrange College was listed in the third tier.

Seven ASBCS member schools were ranked in the fourth tier of their respective categories. Those listed included Judson College (Alabama) among the Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Southwest Baptist University and William Carey College among the Best Universities — Master’s. Brewton-Parker College, Chowan College, Mid-Continent University and Missouri Baptist University were listed in the fourth tier among Best Comprehensive Colleges — Bachelor’s.

Eleven ASBCS schools reported graduation rates in excess of 50 percent with Baylor (72 percent) and Samford (69 percent) leading the way with a strong percentage of entering students graduating within six years. A close look at the reported freshman retention rates reflected that 19 member schools reported above 70 percent retention rates.

The area where most ASBCS schools were weakest is in the area of financial resources and alumni giving. ASBCS member schools ranked very high in all the other categories only to find that their alumni giving rate hurt their overall score and kept them from being ranked higher.

Achieving national recognition for the quality of education offered is a significant step for colleges and universities. Schools will use these rankings in various promotional material and presentations with target groups such as prospective students, alumni and donors. Independent third party recognition of quality based on research adds to the credibility of the institutions within their communities.
Bob R. Agee is executive director of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools.

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  • Bob R. Agee