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Baptist colleges fare well in rankings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Forty-two member institutions of the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities (IABCU) have been listed in the 2009 rankings of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News and World Report and Forbes.com.

U.S. News and World Report, which began ranking America’s best colleges in 1983, bases its college ratings on data provided by the institutions and by a survey of administrators at peer colleges and universities. Institutions are grouped into four categories according to a system developed by the Carnegie Fund for the Advancement of Teaching. The two larger categories, Universities-Master’s and Baccalaureate Colleges, are each divided into four divisions: North, South, Midwest and West. Twenty-six of the 42 IABCU institutions ranked by U.S. News were listed in the top tier of their respective categories (to be noted by * in this article).

Baylor University* and Samford University*, the only IABCU institutions classified as National Universities, were listed in the top tier of this category. The 262 schools in the National Universities group focus heavily on research and award a broad range of degrees through the doctoral level.

Four IABCU schools were ranked in the Liberal Arts Colleges category: Georgetown College, Judson College, Carson-Newman College and North Greenville University. The schools in this group emphasize undergraduate education and grant at least half of their degrees in the arts and sciences.

Eighteen IABCU schools were ranked in the Baccalaureate Colleges category. Colleges in this category focus on undergraduate education but grant fewer than half of their degrees in the liberal arts disciplines. Thirteen IABCU schools were listed in the Baccalaureate–South division, with Ouachita Baptist University* ranked number one for the third consecutive year. Others listed in the Baccalaureate-South division were Shorter College*, Campbellsville University*, Anderson University*, Blue Mountain College*, University of the Cumberlands*, Mars Hill College*, Bluefield College*, Louisiana College*, Virginia Intermont College, Williams Baptist College, Brewton-Parker College and Chowan University.

Oklahoma Baptist University* once again ranked number two in the Baccalaureate-West division, with Howard Payne University* and East Texas Baptist University* also listed in the top tier of colleges in the West.

Judson University* (Illinois) ranked in the top tier of schools in the Baccalaureate-Midwest division. Hannibal-LaGrange College also was ranked in this region.

The 574 institutions listed in the Universities-Master’s category primarily award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The Universities-Master’s-South rankings include Belmont University*, Mercer University*, Union University*, Mississippi College*, Campbell University*, Gardner-Webb University*, Palm Beach Atlantic University*, Charleston Southern University, William Carey University and the University of Mobile. The Universities-Master’s-Midwest listings include Southwest Baptist University and Missouri Baptist University. The Master’s-West group includes University of Mary-Hardin Baylor*, California Baptist University*, Houston Baptist University*, Dallas Baptist University*, Hardin-Simmons University and Wayland Baptist University.

U.S. News introduced a new listing of “Up and Coming Colleges & Universities.” According to U.S. News, top higher education administrators throughout the country listed schools “that are making improvements in academics, faculty, students, campus life, diversity, and facilities. These schools are worth watching because they are making promising and innovative changes.” Belmont University and Union University ranked 2nd and 4th respectively in the Master’s Universities-South category. Anderson University and Campbellsvile University ranked 2nd and 4th respectively in the Baccalaureate-South division.

Forbes.com introduced its first ranking of America’s Best Colleges in 2008. In conjunction with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity at Ohio University, Forbes ranked 569 undergraduate colleges and universities, primarily institutions from the top tiers of the U.S. News list of best colleges. Forbes based its rankings on the quality of the education provided by the institutions, and how much their students have achieved. Forbes describes its college rating system as an alternative to the popular U.S. News & World Report rating on America’s best colleges. Forbes.com rankings rely on data from student evaluations of courses and instructors on the website RateMyProfessors.com. These results account for one-quarter of the Forbes assessment. Another 25 percent of its evaluation depends on how many of a school’s alumni, adjusted for enrollment, are listed in Who’s Who in America. The other half of the ranking is based equally on three factors: the average amount of student debt at graduation; the percentage of students graduating in four years; and the number of students or faculty, also adjusted for enrollment, who have won nationally competitive award such as Rhodes Scholarships or Nobel Prizes.

Ten IABCU institutions have been included again in the Forbes.com list for 2009. Oklahoma Baptist University was the highest-ranked IABCU school at 109th on the Forbes list, followed closely by Carson-Newman College, North Greenville University, Mississippi College, Ouachita Baptist University, Samford University, Union University, Georgetown College, Baylor University, Mercer University and Belmont University.
Michael Arrington is executive director of the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities.

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  • Michael Arrington