The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 22, 2008

Gustavus, MSU eye college rankings

Gusties return to vaunted U.S. News & World Report rankings

By Robb Murray

For Gustavus Adolphus College, they’re just happy to be ranked again. For Minnesota State University, it’s another year at the top of a tier from which they’d like to graduate.

Yep, it’s college rankings time again, the time when the name on everyone’s mind is U.S. News & World Report. The magazine ranks colleges and universities each year, and it is considered the most comprehensive and most watched of all college-ranking efforts.

A year ago at this time Gustavus officials were explaining why, after years of solid rankings, it didn’t make the list at all. As it turned out, an error someone made in filling out the college’s U.S. News application resulted in the college being dropped from the rankings. That error was avoided this year, and Gustavus has returned to the list of the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the nation.

They come in this year at No. 88.

“We’re happy to be part of that group,” said Mark Anderson, Gustavus’ admissions director. “It’s just one more area where we’ve been noteworthy.”

MSU also pays attention to rankings. Each year college officials hope to hop up to the top tier. When you’re in the top tier, your ranking is made public in the magazine’s September issue.

As it is, they won’t know until next week — when a formal request by MSU is granted and it learns the specific rank. In the magazine, the institutions in the lower tier are listed alphabetically and without a ranking.

MSU spokesman Michael Cooper said the university expects to be where it was last year, at the top of tier two for master’s degree-granting institutions. And it’s possible that next year, as MSU continues to grow the number of areas in which it offers doctorate degrees, they’ll be competing in the national universities category.

“Last year our ranking rose significantly for academic reputation,” Cooper said.

It also went up in the areas of student selectivity, financial resources and graduation and retention rates. Last year, they were ranked low in alumni giving, but this year their fundraising has improved. Because of that, they expect their ranking to improve.

Released to the public today on USNews.com, the rankings are scheduled to be published in the September issue and in the annual America’s Best Colleges guidebook, both of which will be available at newsstands and book stores Monday.

Gustavus is one of six Minnesota colleges in the top 100 national liberal arts colleges for overall quality. The others are Carleton College (8), Macalester College (25), St. Olaf College (47), St. John’s University (71), and the College of St. Benedict (84).

Recently, Gustavus also has been ranked one of America’s Best Colleges by Forbes.com and a college with the best food by the Princeton Review — both of which base their rankings on student feedback.

In the top tier of the Midwest region for master’s degree-granting institutions, several Minnesota schools made the list: Hamline University (9), the College of St. Catherine (14), Bethel University (16), the College of St. Scholastica (22), Augsburg College (25), the University of Minnesota—Duluth (45), Winona State University (51) and Bemidji State University (67).\