NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Forty-five members of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools have been listed among the nation’s best in the 2003 annual survey by U.S. News & World Report.
Eight ASBCS schools were listed in the top tier of institutions analyzed in four categories, 13 were listed in the second tier, 16 were listed in the third tier and eight were listed in the fourth tier.
Two ASBCS schools also were ranked in the top 10 of schools with the highest graduation rates.
U.S. News & World Report studied more than 1,400 institutions scattered across the United States, gathering data from the schools themselves and soliciting opinions from peer institutions on their perception of quality.
Using a weighting system based on what the magazine’s editors believe to be indicators of quality, rankings in four categories are developed each year: Best National Universities — Doctoral; Best Liberal Arts Colleges — Bachelor’s; Best Universities — Master’s; and Best Comprehensive Colleges — Bachelor’s.
The rankings are determined by analyzing data gathered in seven categories of information: peer assessment; graduation and retention rates; faculty resources; student selectivity; financial resources; and alumni giving. For schools evaluated in the national universities-doctoral and liberal arts colleges-bachelor’s categories, the ranking system also analyzes data on “graduation rate performance.” In addition to the overall ranking, the magazine developed additional comparisons on topics of lowest acceptance rate, highest graduation rate and highest proportion of classes under 20.
The eight ASBCS member schools ranked in the top tier were listed in Best Universities-Master’s and in Best Comprehensive Colleges — Bachelor’s. Samford University (5th), Mercer University (tied for 8th), Belmont University (tied for 15th), and Union University (33rd) were ranked in the top tier of Best Universities — Master’s in the South.
The Best Universities — Master’s category looked at 572 schools that they determined fit into this group. Samford also was ranked sixth among all the Best Universities — Master’s institutions in the listing of schools with the highest graduation rate. These schools are those that 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, four ASBCS member schools made the top tier. Oklahoma Baptist University (2nd in the West), Ouachita Baptist University (4th in the South), Shorter College (tied for 17th in the South) and Louisiana College (tied for 20th in the South) were listed among the best in this category.
Oklahoma Baptist University also was ranked second in the listing of schools with the highest graduation rate 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.
Baylor University was listed in the second tier of Best National Universities — Doctoral category. The magazine evaluated 249 institutions that fit the profile to be listed based on the fact that these schools offered a “wide range of undergraduate majors as well as master’s and doctoral programs.” The group included 162 public institutions and 87 privates.
Other schools ranked in the second tier in their respective categories included 13 ASBCS member schools. Among the Best Universities — Master’s; Campbell University, Carson-Newman College, Cumberland College and Mississippi College were listed among the schools in the South. Grand Canyon University, Hardin-Simmons University and the University of Mary Hardin Baylor were listed among the schools located in the West.
Within the category of Best Comprehensive Colleges — Bachelor’s, five member schools were ranked in the second tier: Blue Mountain College and Virginia Intermont from the South; Judson College (Illinois) from the Midwest; and East Texas Baptist University and Howard Payne University from the West.
Sixteen ASBCS schools were ranked in the third tier of their respective categories: Georgetown College and William Jewell College among the Best Liberal Arts Colleges — Bachelor’s; Averett University, Campbellsville University, Charleston Southern University, Gardner-Webb University, Palm Beach Atlantic University, William Carey College, California Baptist University, Dallas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University among the Best Universities — Master’s; Anderson College, Bluefield College, Chowan College, North Greenville College and Hannibal LaGrange College among the Best Comprehensive Colleges — Bachelor’s.
Eight ASBCS member schools were ranked in the fourth tier of their respective categories: Judson College (Alabama) among the Best Liberal Arts Colleges — Bachelor’s; University of Mobile, Southwest Baptist University and Wayland Baptist University among the Best Universities — Master’s; Brewton-Parker College, Mid-Continent College, Missouri Baptist University and Williams Baptist College among Best Comprehensive Colleges — Bachelor’s.
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. Additionally, independent third party recognition of quality based on research adds to the credibility of the institutions within their communities.
Agee is the executive director of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools and retired president of Oklahoma Baptist University.