Samford University ranked high among national universities in the annual college rankings released Aug. 17 by U.S. News & World Report.
In the 2008 rankings, Samford was number 118 of the 262 institutions in the doctoral research university category. Samford previously was ranked among master's levels universities in the South but was reclassified as a national university in 2006 because of the diversity of undergraduate and graduate degrees offered. Samford was one of 18 institutions reclassified as national doctoral research universities.
Samford is the only private institution in Alabama in the national universities category, and one of only three institutions in the state to rank as high as the second tier. The University of Alabama was ranked at number 91 and Auburn University was ranked at 96.
Last year, Samford awarded more than 450 doctoral and professional degrees in divinity, education, law and pharmacy. Samford also is recognized for its active and growing undergraduate research program.
Samford President Andrew Westmoreland was visiting Samford programs abroad when the rankings were released, but Provost and Executive Vice President J. Bradley Creed expressed pleasure at the rankings.
"This significant national recognition confirms what the Samford community has known – that Samford University provides a top level education," Creed said. "Our recent reclassification as a national doctoral research university affirmed our strong faculty and student population. We especially are pleased to be considered among the nation's top universities."
U.S. News bases its rankings on the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifications.
Since 1970 the Carnegie Classifications have been the standard used by higher education to classify accredited institutions. The system is used in the study of higher education, both as a way to demonstrate institutional differences and as a research guide to ensure adequate representation of institutions by size and scope, according to Sarah C. Latham, Samford's assistant to the president who oversees the office of institutional effectiveness. Samford's reclassification will influence how the university is perceived nationally and also will affect rankings, such as those published by U.S. News.
Latham explained that U.S. News uses several factors to determine the rankings, including academic achievement of entering students, graduation rates, freshman class retention, class size, faculty/student ratio and alumni giving.
The national ranking will have an immediate and positive impact for the university's alumni, according to Mark Davidson of Mobile, Ala., a 1992 graduate and president of the Samford Alumni Association.
"This unexpected and very high ranking makes everyone aware of what Samford alumni already knew and that is the value of a Samford degree," Davidson said. "And, this further affirms the quality of education that Samford alumni have received and that Samford students continue to receive."
One Samford leader not surprised by the high ranking is Faculty Senate Chair Don T. Sandley. Sandley noted that the U.S. News ranking is just one of the many indices measuring Samford's success.
"This latest ranking confirms what we all have known for quite some time – that Samford's reach is national and even global," said Sandley, a professor of theatre. "We have always exceeded expectations, and now those expectations will be even higher because the bar has been raised."
Among other peer groups, Samford was the highest ranked university representing both the Ohio Valley Conference and the Southern Conference. Samford currently is an OVC-member institution but becomes a member of the Southern Conference in 2008.