By Melanie J. Knox, Opinion Editor
U.S. News and World Report ranked ACU 21st in the “Best Universities- Master’s” category out of the 126 schools in the West region.
This ranking places ACU in the top tier of quality, roughly the top quarter of the schools, for the fifth consecutive year and nine of the last ten years.
“One of our key goals is to remain in the top tier of quality and the lowest tier in price, so we’re thrilled that we’ve been able to achieve that goal consistently,” said Royce Money, president of the university, in a press release.
Five years ago, ACU was placed at the top of the second tier, placing 29th when the top 28 made the top tier.
Michelle Morris, assistant vice president for university and alumni relations, said that a school not previously in the first tier bumped ACU down a notch.
The rankings are based on peer assessment (25 percent), graduation and retention of students (25 percent), faculty resources (20 percent), student selectivity (15 percent), financial resources (10 percent) and alumni giving (5 percent).
ACU’s academic reputation score increased from 3.1 to 3.2, with 5 being the highest. Surveys are given to presidents, provosts and admissions directors at all the Master’s schools to determine this ranking. The highest score given was to Trinity University, which scored a 4.4.
“The reputation scores continue to increase,” Morris said, “reflecting the increasing respect our faculty, staff and administration are gaining through their academic and professional activities.”
ACU also placed in 10th in the “Best Values” category, a drop from 5th last year.
“We don’t look so much at where in the ratings we are,” said Jack Rich, executive vice president of the university. “A change in ratings could be attributed to something that changed in our data, other’s data or in the methodology. We try to look at it within a range, and this rating is within the ballpark range that we feel comfortable with. It’s not an absolute.”
“We are honored to be named a ‘Best Value’ again,” Morris said. “That means our academic quality is outstanding and we are keeping our costs affordable.”
Morris also said that in spite of the challenging economic times, alumni giving percentage remained stable.
“The rankings mean nothing in and of themselves,” Morris said. “They provide external validation of our achievements, which is always nice. They do not drive us; our goals and our desire to educate students for Christian service and leadership are our drivers as a university.”