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

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–U.S. News & World Report magazine has listed 45 colleges and universities of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools among the nation’s best educational institutions.

The magazine analyzed information on more than 1,400 U.S. schools before publishing their annual rankings.

In this year’s report, colleges and universities were ranked in four categories: Best National Universities; Best Liberal Arts Colleges; Best Universities –- Master’s; and Best Comprehensive Colleges — Bachelor’s. In a change in the way the data was presented, the magazine did a numerical ranking of the top half of the schools in each category that combined the top two tiers of institutions. The ranking then continued alphabetically in third and fourth tiers.

Twenty-three members of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools were ranked in the top two tiers, 16 were ranked in the third tier in their respective categories and six were ranked in the fourth tier. Several ASBCS schools moved up in the rankings.

The magazine’s 2005 edition also included a listing of schools in four other categories. They ranked schools as to the best education for the price paid; which schools’ graduates had the worst and least debt load when they finished; which schools had the highest proportion of minority students; and which schools had the best programs in business and engineering. ASBCS member schools were listed in each of these rankings, with only one appearing in the worst debt load among its graduates.

The national newsmagazine gathered data from the 1,400-plus institutions scattered across the country and solicited opinions from peer institutions as to their perception of quality. Using a weighting system based on what the editors believe to be indicators of quality, their ranking is determined by analyzing data gathered in such categories as: peer assessment; average graduation rate; average freshman retention rate; faculty resources; percentage of classes under 20; percentage of classes over 50; student/faculty ratio; percentage of fulltime faculty; SAT/ACT scores of students; freshmen in top 25 percent of high school class; acceptance rate of applying students; financial resources and alumni giving.

The 23 ASBCS schools ranked in the top two tiers were listed in Best National Universities, Best Universities -– Master’s and in Best Comprehensive Colleges -– Bachelor’s. Baylor University achieved the rank of being tied for 84th among the Best National Universities. The magazine analyzed data on 248 major universities throughout the United States in developing the rankings. Baylor’s undergraduate engineering program achieved the rank of 14th. The Best National Universities group included 162 public institutions and 87 private institutions.

Twelve member schools were ranked in the top tiers in the Best Universities –- Master’s category. In the South, Samford University (5th), Mercer University (tied for 8th), Belmont University (tied for 19th ), Mississippi College (tied for 26th), Union University (tied for 33rd), Carson-Newman College (36th), Campbell University (tied for 55th), Cumberland College (tied for 60th), and Campbellsville University (tied for 64th) were ranked in the top tier of Best Universities -– Master’s in the South. Hardin-Simmons University (tied for 41st), University of Mary Hardin Baylor (tied for 47th) and Houston Baptist University (58th) were ranked in the top tier of Best Universities -– Master’s in the West.

Mercer, Mississippi College and Carson-Newman were listed among the schools identified as a “Great School at a Great Price” in this category. Mercer was ranked 39th in the listing of best undergraduate engineering programs. The Best Universities -– Master’s category looked at 572 schools which the magazine determined fit into this group. These schools 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 schools made the top tier. In the West, Oklahoma Baptist University (2nd), East Texas Baptist University (13th) and Howard Payne University (17th) were listed. In the South, Ouachita Baptist University (5th), Shorter College (17th), Louisiana College (tied for 25th), Bluefield College and Mars Hill (tied for 45th) and Blue Mountain College (tied for 48th) were listed. In the Midwest region, Judson College in Illinois was ranked (tied for 53rd).

OBU, Howard Payne and East Texas Baptist also were ranked in the listing of schools considered to be “Great Schools at a Great Price” among the Best Comprehensive Colleges –- Bachelor’s. The category includes 324 institutions that were evaluated by U.S. News and includes those schools that offer a wide range of undergraduate degrees in liberal arts and professional disciplines.

Schools ranked in the third tier in their respective categories included 16 ASBCS schools. Among the Best Liberal Arts Colleges, Georgetown College and William Jewell College were listed in the third tier. Among the Best Universities -– Master’s, Averett University, Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb University, Palm Beach Atlantic University, University of Mobile and William Carey College were listed in the third tier among the schools in the South. California Baptist University, Dallas Baptist University and Wayland Baptist University were listed in the third tier among the schools in the West.

Within the category of Best Comprehensive Colleges -– Bachelor’s, five ASBCS schools were ranked in the third tier. Anderson College, North Greenville College, Virginia Intermont College and Williams Baptist College were listed from the South. Hannibal-LaGrange College was ranked in the third tier in the Midwest region.

Six ASBCS schools were ranked in the fourth tier of their respective categories: Judson College (Alabama) among the Best Liberal Arts Colleges; Southwest Baptist University among the Best Universities -– Master’s; and Brewton-Parker College, Chowan College, Mid-Continent College and Missouri Baptist University among Best Comprehensive Colleges –- Bachelor’s.

In U.S. News & World Report’s list of schools whose graduates accumulated the worst and least debt load, six ASBCS schools were listed in the least debt load category. Among the Best Universities -– Master’s category, Gardner-Webb and Belmont were listed. Among the Best Comprehensive Colleges –- Bachelor’s schools, Louisiana College, Mid-Continent College, Judson College in Illinois and East Texas Baptist were listed.

The magazine also ranked schools according to their effectiveness in reaching a higher proportion of minority students (not including international students). Three ASBCS schools –- Mercer, Houston Baptist and Howard Payne– were listed as doing a commendable job for achieving a higher level of campus diversity in the student population.

ASBCS member schools ranked high in all categories except for alumni giving which in many cases lowered the ranking score.
Bob R. Agee is executive director of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools.

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  • Bob R. Agee