U.S. News ranks Harding University among South’s best for 21st year

Harding University has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best universities in the South for the 21st consecutive year. The rankings are in the magazine’s 2015 Best Colleges guidebook, which hits newsstands Sept. 23.

The University ranked 22nd this year and was the only Arkansas institution included among the top 25 regional universities in the South behind such notable schools as Rollins College, Samford University, James Madison University and Stetson University.

The report also ranked Harding at No. 2 — moving up one position from last year — on its “Great Schools, Great Prices” list as a best value among schools in the South. The University was the only school in Arkansas included in the top 15 of the regional category.

Harding is included in the Best Regional Universities category, which comprises schools that offer a full range of undergraduate- and master’s-level programs and some doctoral programs. The 620 universities in this category were ranked against their peer groups in one of four geographic regions — North, South, Midwest and West.

The 12 states included in the magazine’s southern region include colleges from West Virginia to Florida and from Arkansas to the East Coast. Harding is the highest-ranked Arkansas school in this category.

“It’s wonderful when organizations recognize the quality of our education,” said Dr. Bruce McLarty, president of the University. “It affirms what we already know, that Harding is truly a great academic institution. And the U.S. News survey doesn’t even take into account the thing we value the most — our spiritual mission.”

To determine the rankings, the magazine evaluated universities across the nation in areas such as graduation rate, peer assessment, retention of students, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving rate.

Harding was first ranked by U.S. News & World Report in 1994 when enrollment stood at a little more than 4,000. Now, with an enrollment of 6,075, Harding is the largest private university in Arkansas. The student body represents 49 states and 44 foreign countries. The University also maintains campuses in Australia, Chile, England, France, Greece, Italy and Zambia.