Rise in rankings indicates recognized excellence

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Linda Smith, News Editor

The University of Dallas has moved up in both the U.S. News & World Report’s and Washington Monthly’s 2013 rankings for colleges across the country.

In the 2013 U.S. News & World Report’s list of best colleges, UD rose two spots from its previous ranking to number 12 in its category. The report also acknowledged UD as one of the 10 Best Value Schools in the Western region, and as an “A+ School for B Students”, which means, according to the website, that it is good for students “with less than stellar test scores or a so-so GPA.”

Washington Monthly has also raised UD’s spot from the previous year. UD is ranked 23 out of 100 master universities, rising 10 spots from last year’s ranking and occupying the fourth spot among Catholic universities in the ranking.

UD has been recognized elsewhere this year, having been named one of the country’s best institutions for undergraduate education by The Princeton Review, a Best Buy by the Fiske Guide to Colleges and one of America’s Best Colleges by Forbes.

“Forbes’ ranking is extraordinary for us – 120th,” UD President Thomas Keefe said. “You have quality universities like TCU ranked 214, Texas A&M ranked 140, Saint Louis University ranked 254 – you have to drive over 1,000 miles to find a Catholic university that is ranked higher than we are, and that would be Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Along the way you could pass Creighton, Rockhurst, SLU, Loyola-Chicago, DePaul, Xavier – and all of them are ranked behind the University of Dallas in the Forbes ranking.”

The ranking for reports focuses on different aspects of the university. For example, U.S. News & World Report ranks schools by first categorizing them by mission. Although the categories of colleges, such as regional or national, have come from U.S. News and World Report, their definitions are adopted from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s Basic Classification. The Carnegie system is the standard for ranking institutions of higher education, and U.S. News & World Report has relied on it since its first published ranking in 1983.

The different categories include national universities, national liberal arts colleges, regional universities, and regional colleges. UD falls under the Western regional universities category, because it offers a broad scope of bachelor’s programs, some master’s programs and a few doctoral programs.

After placing the universities, U.S. News and World Report uses 16 criteria, each weighed differently in the overall score, to show academic excellence and rank schools accordingly. Some of the factors studied include the alumnus giving rate, financial resources, retention and, most significantly, undergraduate academic reputation.

Washington Monthly used a different method, teaming up with the New America Foundation’s Education Policy Program to rate schools based on the schools’ efforts to improve social mobility, produce research and promote public service not only for the students, but for the entire country. The social mobility score comes from the number of low-income students who are enrolled in and graduate from an institution. Research production scores are tallied by the number of doctoral degrees awarded to a university according to its size. The number of students who participate in giving back to their community makes up the public service score.

Keefe is pleased with the rise in rankings, because it shows the start of a path to national recognition for UD.

“When I interviewed for this job nearly three years ago, one of the board members observed to me that UD was one of the best-kept secrets in the country,” Keefe said. “My response was, that sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy – it doesn’t have to happen.  More and more people are becoming aware of the excellence of the academic enterprise at the University of Dallas.”

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