ACU commanded attention this year following the release of the U.S. News and World Report rankings that recognized it as the number one “Up-and-Coming” University in the western region.
The award is determined through a survey conducted each year of the president, provost, and chief enrollment officer at each university in the western region. When asked “Who do you see as an up-and-coming university or a university to watch?” the aggregated answers selected ACU as the leader of 160 schools on the list, said Kevin Roberts, chief planning and information officer at ACU.
ACU has actually won this award three of the past four years in the number one spot, said Grant Rampy, director of public relations.
“‘Up-and-Coming’ implies that the school has suddenly risen, and there’s something in it that points to a rising above, but if you look at it in terms of them asking the top folks running schools, ‘Hey, who do you hear about?’ and they keep saying ACU, it shows that we keep hovering in this very talked-about level,” said Rampy
There are two known extremes of schools, Roberts said. Some, like Stanford, are notorious, while others struggle to keep their doors open. Between those extremes are schools that people begin to notice more and more on their radar, which is what the “Up-and-Coming” award recognizes. These are schools that will be a force to be reckoned with.
ACU also moved up in ranking from the 19th spot to the 17th spot on the U.S. and World Report scale of the best schools with masters institutions in the Western region, which is a greater jump upward than any other university in the nation was able to accomplish this past year, Roberts said.
“A movement of two places doesn’t sound like much, but that’s more than any school in the country in any of the regions,” Roberts said. “That movement is really unheard of.”
U.S. and World Reports uses an algorithm that weighs different factors more heavily than others, from alumni giving to class size, and they analyze all the schools within the same scale category, Roberts said.
“Given the number and breadth of things they ask in the 300 question survey, they can probably capture the full essence of what a university is like,” Roberts said. “It’s at least an objective way to rank order of universities, and continuing to move up in that is something we’re proud of and want to continue to try and do.”
In the past several years, there has been a significant rise in ACU’s presence in many of places: the press, newspapers, magazines, publications by faculty, presentations being made, and more. Some of it has to do with mobile learning, Roberts said, but it’s not limited to that. There are a number of accomplishments that are coming together that are not limited to iPhones or success on the football field, and the recognition is a combination of all of these things.
“We are proud of what we are doing here; we’re accomplishing a great deal. I think for a long time our combination of southern gentility and Christian ethos made us sound like we were just some little old school in west Texas,” Roberts said. “The reality is, it’s not true. We’re a nationally, globally competent, qualified university-We really are one of the only places in the world with the intersection of faith and scholarship that we have here.”
Out of a list of 1600 schools that included Harvard and Princeton, ACU and 17 others were recognized as having an outstanding freshman experience.
“Sometimes we have a hard time believing that ourselves because we’re just family and we know each other, but you start to see some of this coming out in national recognition ,and you see that we are the best there is when it comes to this ‘Up-and-Coming’ piece and that we were one of the 18 schools that had the best first year experience,” Roberts said.
ACU was also ranked third in the western region in regards to Best Undergraduate Teaching. The other two on that list were Trinity University and Santa Clara University, which are great universities, Roberts said.
“I want students, faculty, and staff to recognize how special what we have here is. This familiarity sometimes makes it hard for us to see that, but what we have is really unique, it’s really special and it’s not the same kind of education you can get at any other school,” Roberts said. “And I think it’s really important for people to understand that.”