Centre College climbs in U.S. News ranking to #45 in the nation

Posted by Centre News in Featured News, News, Rankings 09 Sep 2014

campuswalkWPThe 2015 U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” guide ranks Centre College #45 among all National Liberal Arts Colleges, an increase of four spots over last year’s ranking.

“We are fortunate to remain among the best of the best by every measure,” said John A. Roush, Centre’s president, “which is a credit to our faculty and staff, as well as our 195-year history focused on educating young people for meaningful work and service.”

In separate categories, Centre faculty were rated tops in the nation, with a #10 ranking for best undergraduate teaching. The College was also ranked #31 in the nation for best value in the “Great Schools, Great Prices” category.

Finally, Centre made a significant gain in the high school counselor ranking, moving from #44 to #37 in the nation over a one-year period. This is the fifth year that U.S. News has included the opinions of high school guidance counselors in its rankings.

“While we naturally view the objectivity of rankings and guidebooks with some level of caution,” Roush added, “we know that they are a valuable compass for prospective students and their families as they navigate this important decision.”

The top faculty and best value rankings confirm success in Centre’s mission to be a college that prizes great teaching and believes quality and access are not incompatible.

Because U.S. News bases the best faculty rating on a separate question in its peer assessment survey, the #10 ranking is especially meaningful. It indicates that college presidents, provosts and deans of admission across the country believe that Centre has, as the survey question reads, “an unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching.”

At a time when the cost and investment of a college education is being called into question, the #31 best value ranking is positive confirmation that Centre is living up to its mission of being a place that values high achievement and high opportunity.

The U.S. News formula for the best value category is straightforward. It looks at a school’s academic quality weighed against the net cost of attendance for a student who receives the average level of need-based financial aid. As U.S. News concludes, “The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal.”

Centre was an outlier several years ago when it capped annual cost increases at three percent or below, with a commitment to do so for the foreseeable future. As a result, while peer institutions continue to raise their costs at seemingly unsustainable rates, a Centre education remains accessible for the broad spectrum of families in this country and across the globe. And with approximately $25 million in institutional aid being distributed this year, Centre remains committed to making a college education affordable irrespective of economic background.

While the methodology used by U.S. News to calculate the overall ranking is somewhat complex and changes from year to year, slight improvements in a number of key areas are responsible for Centre’s rise in the rankings.

For instance, Centre’s financial resources ranking improved from 76 to 71 in the nation, the result of continued success in fundraising along with sound fiscal management. Centre also remains in the top 10 nationally for alumni giving. As a result, more resources are available to support the academic experience, benefitting students and faculty directly.

These additional resources have allowed Centre, among other initiatives, to reduce its student-faculty ratio from 11:1 to 10:1, which helped improve the overall ranking.

The complete “Best Colleges” guide is available here.

by Michael Strysick