Samford University has continued a decades-long tradition of being ranked in the top tier of its peer group in the annual U.S. News & World Report college rankings. Samford was ranked fourth among universities in the South in the 2012 rankings released Sept. 13.
Samford continues to be the highest ranked private institution in Alabama and ranked very high among its Southern Conference peers. Only Elon University (North Carolina) was higher, ranking first in the same regional universities-South category as Samford.
The rankings are based on the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifications and assess such criteria as academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, class size, faculty/student ratio and alumni giving, according to Sarah C. Latham, Samford’s vice president for operations and planning. Peer assessments from presidents, provosts and chief admission officers of institutions in the same classification also account for 25 percent of the overall score for each institution.
“It always is meaningful to be so highly regarded by your peers, and this very high ranking affirms the strong academic reputation that Samford University has developed over the decades,” said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland.
Institutions in Samford’s classification are ranked in four regions. In addition to its high ranking among peer institutions in the South, Samford’s overall score ranked it among the top 10 regional universities nationally.
Samford also was ranked sixth among regional universities in the South on the “Great Schools, Great Price” list. According to U.S. News officials, only schools ranked in or near the top of their categories were included in this list because U.S. News considers the most significant values to be among colleges that are above average academically. Two of the three schools ranked above Samford in the overall South rankings – Rollins (Florida) and Stetson (Florida) – also were on this list.
In addition, Samford was one of 19 universities in the South to be named an “A-Plus School for B Students.” Institutions on the list admitted a “meaningful proportion of applicants whose test scores and class standing put in them in non-A territory, but who have a decent shot at being accepted and thriving” according to U.S. News officials. Again, two of the three schools ranked above Samford in the South rankings – Rollins and Elon (North Carolina) – also were included in this list.
Until 2007, Samford had been ranked among regional universities in the South. But, a shift in Carnegie Foundation classifications that year moved Samford into the national doctoral research universities category, Latham said. Samford was in the top tier each of the four years it was in that classification. A change in the criteria for recognizing doctoral degrees moved Samford back to the regional university classification earlier this year, she explained. The last Carnegie Foundation reclassification was in 2006.
Samford’s doctor of education degree (Ed.D.) is the only degree that meets the revised criteria for the national doctoral research classification, Latham said, and institutions are required to grant 20 such degrees each year to maintain that status. In the most recent reporting year, Samford awarded 15 Ed.D. degrees. Samford’s professional doctoral degrees – ministry, nursing, law and pharmacy – now fall into a different classification.
Westmoreland noted that the high U.S. News rankings come at the same time the university anticipates announcing another strong fall enrollment. Official enrollment figures are expected to be released Sept. 16. He also noted that the university had near-record annual giving in fiscal 2011, with more than $35 million in gifts in the year that ended June 30. Several Samford programs, including business, entrepreneurship and nursing, have achieved high national rankings in recent months, and the university has been highly ranked in the past year by other publications such as Forbes, Kiplinger’s and The Princeton Review.
“Rankings are just one, albeit a very public way to measure the true success of any university,” said Samford University President Andrew Westmoreland. “Our Carnegie reclassification and this shift in our U.S. News ranking does not change Samford’s mission as a comprehensive university with nationally-recognized, rigorous academic programs. We continue to be the highest-ranked private institution in Alabama, and we will continue with our long-established vision to move Samford forward in national recognition for our people and programs.”