BY SEBASTIAN DUNCAN – STAFF WRITER
On Sept. 13th, U.S. News & World Report ranked Centre College as #44 in the “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” ranking.
Centre rising from #45 to #44 in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking is not a dramatic increase. However, this change is a direct result of gradual improvements throughout college, and this consistent trend of improvement will most likely be beneficial for Centre in the future.
According to Director of Communications Michael Strysick, four specific factors have improved Centre’s U.S. News ranking. First, Centre improved in the “Graduation and Retention” category. Centre’s “Faculty Resources” category also improved, which is determined by factors such as class sizes and the student-faculty ratio. The third factor that contributed to Centre’s increased ranking is the “number of incoming first-years who were ranked in the top 10 percent of their graduating class.” Finally, Centre’s acceptance rate decreased slightly, “which makes [Centre] appear to be more selective.”
Chief Planning Officer Patrick Noltemeyer added that Centre’s improvement in the “Graduation and Retention” category probably contributed the most to the U.S. News ranking.
Noltemeyer also mentioned that Centre “continues to have a strong reputation with peer institutions resulting in a positive peer assessment rating, as well as a strong rating by high school counselors who are familiar with the quality educational experience Centre provides.”
Noltemeyer and Strysick both stated that Centre does not prioritize rankings over the overall educational experience for students and faculty, although they acknowledge the importance of rankings for the college.
“Because rankings are highly influential in the college search process, the new ranking is very helpful,” Strysick said.
Strysick stated that maintaining a high rank is an important aspect of staying competitive in higher education.
“[Centre’s U.S. News & World Report rank] suggests to prospective students that we maintain a high level of quality, and it suggests to our alumni and other potential donors that Centre is worthy of support and a good investment,” Strysick said.
Noltemeyer also asserts that Centre’s rankings are an important part of the decision-making process for prospective students. However, he also stated that the administration “[tries] not to put too much stock in [Centre’s] ranking by any publication or website.”
“It is always a good thing for us to do well in the rankings, but it is really the efforts of our students, faculty, and staff that earn us such a positive reputation,” Noltemeyer said.
Both Strysick and Noltemeyer believe that other rankings also signify Centre’s consistent excellence.
“Centre College offers prospective students a very strong value proposition, since we are lower priced relative to other schools ranked in the top 50,” Strysick said. “[Centre College continues] to be honored by all those rankings that focus on “best value”, whether it’s Kiplinger’s, Fiske, or Money magazines.”
Centre’s value for students is also reflected in how likely it is for alumni to give back to the college.
Alumni generosity allows Centre to invest more money back into college programs, such as the Third Century Campaign, the Grissom Scholars program, and the Lincoln Scholars program. These programs help improve Centre’s rankings, which in turn have the potential to further increase alumni giving.
“Our alumni are among the most loyal in the country and were ranked this year #12 in the nation for their giving participation rate,” Strysick said. “We simply could not be as successful as we are without the continued generosity of our alumni and other donors, and we are forever grateful.”
Finally, Strysick praised Centre’s study abroad ranking.
“We have often been ranked #1 in the nation but consistently among the top 5 for our study abroad participation rates,” Strysick said.
This sentiment is seconded by Noltemeyer, who is “pleased that [Centre is] recognized with a high ranking by Institute of International Education.”
Noltemeyer also stated that he is proud of “the dedication of Centre students to community service”, which is reflected in the rankings of magazines such as the Washington Monthly.
All of these rankings are tied to Centre’s consistent success on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” ranking, which is one of the most influential college ranking reports in the United States.
Although a change from #45 to #44 in the nation among liberal arts colleges is not a radical change in Centre’s ranking, it is proof that Centre is making incremental improvements.
Hopefully, Centre’s national and international success will remain as consistent and significant as it has in the past.