ACU has outranked other Texas universities in U.S. News & World Report’s new benchmark and climbed nine spots in the regional rankings from last year.
The university received its highest overall Western Region ranking in history at 12th in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 “America’s Best Colleges.”
Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, announced the news to faculty and staff at an impromptu celebration meeting on Monday.
“In some ways, I’m not surprised because I know we’ve been about those things,” Schubert said. “In some ways, I am a little surprised that the visibility of what we’re doing is so widespread that I could not be more thankful.”
The university also achieved status in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 Top 20 in three of eight categories. U.S. News aims to highlight the best institutions in the nation for exceptional commitment to student success. ACU placed 4th in the category of Service Learning, above Stanford, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt and several other well known institutions. ACU placed 9th in the category of First-Year Experience and 11th in Learning Communities.
“I think it just really reinforces the core focus of what we’ve been trying to do for years,” Schubert said. “To be recognized in those areas in an unprecedented way, being the only school in Texas to be listed three times in the Top 20 and in five categories overall, suggests that at a national level people are recognizing ACU as an institution that puts students right at the center and core of what we’re doing.”
ACU was ranked in the Top 50 in the nation in the categories of Study Abroad at 35th, and Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects at 42nd.
Dr. Robert Rhodes, provost of the university, addressed faculty and staff at the Monday celebration.
“It doesn’t happen by accident,” Rhodes said. “I think it also happens when we’re all working together. When we’re at the top of our game in each area, it makes a difference.”
Other Texas universities recognized in the Top 20 of this benchmark are Baylor University, Rice University and The University of Texas at Austin. ACU is the only Texas institution to be ranked in five categories and the only Church of Christ-affiliated university besides Pepperdine University to be included in the benchmark.
“These type of experiences and the focus on student success has been right at the center of our strategic platform for a number of years,” Schubert said. “So we’ve made tremendous strides in all kinds of different areas that focus on the student experience. I think as an organization, as we continue to focus consistently on those themes, it just begins to develop a broad level of visibility and a certain culture that people are beginning to see. So once U.S. News stopped and asked the question, ‘Who’s the best at student success?’ I think there was almost a pent-up understanding that maybe there hadn’t been a vehicle for others to say, ‘Oh, Abilene Christian.’ But this vehicle gave them the chance to do that and we’re really proud.”