CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College rose 19 positions in the 2011 edition of the U.S. News & World Report annual Best Colleges rankings and was in the top ten of the nation’s “Up-and-Coming” liberal arts colleges.
A total of 1,472 colleges and universities were surveyed for the 2011 rankings. In the category of national liberal arts colleges, Washington College rose to #93, from a 2010 position of 112.
For its list of “The 2011 Up-and-Comers,” the survey asked college administrators to nominate institutions that had “recently made the most promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty, student life, campus, or facilities.” Among liberal arts colleges, Washington College ranked 9th.
One of the oldest of a growing number of college rankings enterprises, the U.S. News list considers up to 16 factors, from acceptance and graduation rates to the percentage of faculty members who are full-time and the rate of alumni giving. It has been controversial in recent years because of the weight it gave its peer ratings—how presidents, provosts and deans of admission assess their peer institutions—in calculating a school’s academic reputation. For the 2011 rankings, the survey formula reduced the influence of those peer reviews and added the opinions of 1,787 college counselors at public high schools.
Mitchell B. Reiss, who became president of Washington College on July 1, is pleased to see the institution recognized for solid, ongoing improvements in opportunities for scholarly and creative engagement and in the physical plant. The College’s Chesapeake Semester, now in its second year, enables students to explore the history, ecology and sociology of the region in experiential settings both within the watershed and abroad. The Presidential Fellows program is a new co-curricular program offering special academic opportunities outside the classroom to high-ability students. In the past few years, the College has also invested some $70 million in campus improvements, including a new student center—the Hodson Hall Commons—and a renovated Gibson Center for the Arts.
“This college is building on a rich tradition of excellence,” says Dr. Reiss. “We have a dedicated faculty that gets to know the students as individuals, a beautiful and historic setting, and nationally known centers of excellence for the study of the literary arts, the environment and American history. The stage is set for us to surge ahead in many areas.”
The rankings are available online and will be published in the September issue of U.S. News & World Report.