Washington Monthly - September/October 2015 - 24

TOP 30 NATIONAL UNIVERSITIES RANK IN U.S. NEWS (2015) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-SAN DIEGO (CA)* 37 University of California-Riverside (CA)* 113 Texas A&M University-College Station (TX)* 68 University of California-Berkeley (CA)* 20 Stanford University (CA) 4 University of California-Los Angeles (CA)* 23 University of Washington-Seattle (WA)* 48 Harvard University (MA) 2 Georgia Institute of Technology-Main (GA)* 35 Univ. of Texas-El Paso (TX)* Rank not published University of NC-Chapel Hill (NC)* 30 Case Western Reserve University (OH) 38 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (MI)* 29 University of CA-Santa Barbara (CA)* 40 MA Institute of Technology (MA) 7 University of California-Davis (CA)* 38 Florida International Univ. (FL)* Rank not published Ohio State University-Main (OH)* 54 University of Wisconsin-Madison (WI)* 47 Indiana State University (IN)* Rank not published Brigham Young University-Provo (UT) 62 University of Florida (FL)* 48 University of Notre Dame (IN) 16 University of Texas-Austin (TX)* 53 Vanderbilt University (TN) 16 Princeton University (NJ) 1 University of IL-Urbana-Champaign (IL)* 42 VA Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ. (VA)* 71 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (MN)* 71 Rice University (TX) 19 *Public institution The 2015 U.S. News rankings were released in September 2014. Public-Private Partisanship On the U.S. News list, nineteen of the top twenty universities are private, as are nearly all the top colleges. Public institutions that serve a wide range of students fare much better by our measures. Sixteen of our twenty highest-ranked universities are taxpayer supported, and only two privates, Stanford and Harvard, make the top ten on our list of national universities. As it has in previous years, the University of California system dominates our national university rankings, with 24 September/October 2015 a combination of research prowess and economic diversity among undergraduates. Compared to barely public institutions like the University of Virginia (sixty-third on our list), where only a few more than one in ten students are poor enough to qualify for the federal Pell Grant, top-ranked UC San Diego and UC Riverside enjoy international reputations for scholarship while enrolling racially and economically diverse student bodies. Other standout publics on our list include Texas A&M, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Liberal Bias There are also many worthy liberal arts colleges in our rankings, with women's colleges and historically black colleges like Bryn Mawr and Claflin University standing out. The New College of Florida, a rare public liberal arts college, also makes our top twenty. Berea College in Kentucky, ranked third on our list, specializes in educating low-income, first-generation college students, at a price that's virtually free. In a time when researchers are increasingly questioning how much undergraduates actually learn while they're in college, liberal arts schools often provide the intensive, personalized learning environments where students thrive. Hidden Gems There are also hundreds of baccalaureate and master's-granting institutions that don't compete for students nationally and instead serve as the workhorse institutions of American higher education, providing affordable degrees with strong ties to regional economies. Creighton University in Nebraska, our third-ranked master's university, graduates over threequarters of its students and sends an unusual number on to earn PhDs. Truman State, a public university in Missouri, has similar graduation rates and affordable tuition, and excels at enrolling students in both the Peace Corps and the ROTC. Both of our top two baccalaureate colleges, the public Elizabeth City State in North Carolina and the private Tuskegee University in Alabama, are historically black institutions, continuing the trend we see in our liberal arts college rankings. Cooper Union's graduation rate and success in producing future PhDs keeps it highly ranked, despite the fact that administrative bungling led the historically tuition-free institution to start levying charges for the first time last year. T he outrage voiced by Cooper Union students and alumni over the huge tuition increase joined a chorus of price-focused criticism that has come to dominate the politics of higher education in recent years. It has never been more expensive to go to college in America, and many of the public colleges and universities that have historically been one of the few reliable pathways to prosperity for the poor and the middle class are rapidly boosting tuition toward private market rates. The success of the UC system on our rank-

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