n recognition of a commitment to public service and educational access for low-income students, University of the Ozarks has been ranked 25th overall among the nation’s Baccalaureate colleges in the 2012Washington Monthly’s College Ranking survey. Ozarks was the highest ranked college in Arkansas in the annual rankings that have been sponsored by the magazine since 2005.
The survey ranks more than 1,500 colleges and universities, including more than 250 in the Baccalaureate category. The magazine rates schools based on their contributions to the public good in three broad categories:
· Social mobility — Recruiting and graduating low-income students.
· Research — Producing cutting-edge scholarships and Ph.Ds.
· Service — Encouraging students to give something back to their country.
Washington Monthly’s ranking system is designed to measure how effectively colleges serve their students and, ultimately, the country. In an article on its website, the magazine says it seeks to “rate colleges based on how well they perform with the students they have, regardless of the students’ backgrounds or SAT scores, on metrics that measure the widely shared goals of increasing social mobility, producing results and inspiring public service.”
U of O President Dr. Rick Niece said Washington Monthly’s emphasis on public service and educational access fits perfectly with the university’s mission.
“Our historic mission, since 1834, has been to instill in students a commitment of service to others and the honor of being servant leaders,” Niece said. “We also pride ourselves as a place dedicated to enrolling students who are the first in their families to attend college, as well as students who need financial assistance for their college educations. The Washington Monthly rankings recognize our exceptional ability to teach by example and to foster the rewards of looking beyond ourselves and to needs of others.”
Some of the factors figuring into the rankings are the number of bachelor’s degree recipients who go on to earn doctoral degrees or serve in Peace Corps as well as the number of students who participate in community service and the staff support those efforts receive. In addition, the magazine considers the cost-adjusted graduation rate—which includes components such as the percentage of Pell Grant recipients, incoming SAT scores and net price—in an effort to recognize schools that use their resources to educate students effectively at a relatively low cost.
Among the areas Ozarks scored the highest in were the social mobility and service categories. Ozarks ranked sixth in cost-adjusted graduation rate performance and was among the best in the category of net price of attendance. In the area of service, Ozarks ranked first in number of alumni serving in the Peace Corps, relative to the size of the school, and among the top 72 in both student community service participation and support for community service.
The top three colleges in the Baccalaureate category were Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina, Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia and Tuskegee University in Alabama.
Washington Monthly’s online site notes that “Unlike U.S. News & World Report and similar guides, this one asks not what colleges can do for you, but what colleges are doing for the country. Are they educating low-income students or just catering to the affluent? Are they improving the quality of their teaching or just ducking accountability for it? Are they trying to become more productive—and, if so, why is average tuition rising faster than health care costs? Every year we lavish billions of tax dollars and other public benefits on institutions of higher learning. This guide asks: Are we getting the most for our money?”