Denison Maintains Its Place in Top Tier of U.S. News 'America's Best Colleges'
Posted: September 15, 2006
GRANVILLE -- Denison University has maintained its place in the Top Tier of the U.S. News & World Report's annual ranking of "America's Best Colleges," positioned at No. 48 on the weekly magazine's list of the country's leading public and private liberal arts institutions.
The 2007 U.S. News rankings, published in the Aug. 29, 2006, issue, define "the nation's 212 liberal arts colleges" as those that "emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half their degrees in the liberal arts." In separate "regional" rankings, nearly nine hundred other small and medium-sized schools are identified. A mainstay year after year among the upper half of the Top Tier of the select national liberal arts colleges, Denison was ranked No. 51 last year on the list of 110 Top Tier schools.
Each year, little upward or downward movement takes place among the elite institutions on the U.S. News list. Among this year's top 50, only seven colleges, including Denison, advanced as many as three places in the ranking.
This year, Denison joins only two other Ohio colleges, Oberlin and Kenyon, in U.S. News Top 50.
"We are obviously pleased to be included among this list of highly respected national liberal arts institutions," notes Denison President Dale Knobel about the newly released rankings. "This recognition only confirms what we at Denison already know: that our faculty and students are top notch and the teaching and learning that go on here are extraordinary." Knobel adds, "We all have doubts about "ranking" schemes, but we do think that Denison is keeping the right company with an extraordinary group of national liberal arts colleges.
A brief analysis of the data points to several different strengths that have earned Denison its position on the U.S. News list. "American's Best Colleges" uses a combination of methodologies -- including a "peer assessment" based upon opinions of other college presidents, provosts (chief academic officers) and admissions deans - to arrive at an average score. Denison's peer assessment score of 3.4 puts it in a tie for 40th place within this year's Top Tier. Other leading schools earning the same 3.4 peer assessment score include Lafayette College (Pa.), Bard College (N.Y.), Furman University (S.C.), Dickinson College (Pa.) and DePauw University (Ind.).
Relative rankings in categories across the board place Denison in some very strong company. For example, in the 2007 rankings (which U.S. News bases on 2005 data), Denison is credited with an acceptance rate of 39 percent, placing it in a tie for 28th with Trinity College (Conn.). Additionally, the study reports that 97 percent of Denison's faculty are employed full-time by the university. Only three schools in the Top Tier can claim a higher percentage of full-time professors. Denison's numbers in this category match those of Smith College (Mass.), Vassar College (N.Y.), Bucknell University (Pa.), Carleton College (Minn.) and Harvey Mudd College (Calif.). Record-setting financial support from a large number of committed alumni has moved Denison into a tie for 34th place among the national top 50 in the category of alumni giving rate, tying Connecticut College, and coming in just ahead of Vassar, Harvey Mudd, and Franklin & Marshall College (Pa.).
Other factors contributing to Denison's Top Tier standing again this year include strong graduation and retention rates, outstanding financial resources, a low student-faculty ratio (11 to 1), the increased number of enrolling students who placed among the top 10 percent of their high school class (54 percent), and admissions selectivity. Denison's selectivity rank places it ahead of other top-50 schools like Trinity, University of the South (Tenn.), Franklin & Marshall, Rhodes College (Tenn.), Sarah Lawrence College (N.Y.), Skidmore and DePauw. To arrive at a school's overall ranking, U.S. News first calculates the weighted sums of its scores, and then rescales other schools after assigning the top school a value of 100 in each category.
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