Washington Monthly names UND one of top 70 public universities

Call it an academic hat trick: The University of North Dakota has been named three times, in as many weeks, to prominent national lists of some of the best universities in the nation.

The newest mention is the Washington Monthly's list of National Universities, which places UND among the country's top 70 public universities (UND is 69, up 31 spots from last year). Throw the private schools, including the big name Ivy League institutions, into the mix and UND ranks 117 -- up 52 places from last year (169). Two weeks ago, UND was again ranked by U.S. News & World Report as among the top 200 national colleges and universities. Last week, The Princeton Review again named UND as one of "The Best 366 Colleges" in the United States.

In the September 2007 issue, the Washington Monthly editors say they have taken a different approach to comparing colleges. Their rankings, they say, are meant to provide a guide for "what colleges are doing for the country. For the third year in a row, we've sifted through reams of publicly available data to come up with what we think is a fair assessment of which colleges are living up to their public interest mission, and which aren't."

"Although as we've said before, rankings of any kind have to be taken with a grain of salt, we are particularly pleased by the ranking of UND by Washington Monthly for several important reasons,” said President Charles Kupchella. “First of all, the University moved from a rank of 169 a year ago to a rank of 117 this year. Secondly and most importantly, this magazine makes an attempt to measure the outcomes, results, and impacts that universities have. In particular, the Washington Monthly survey attempts to measure in a quantitative way the impact a university has on enhancing social mobility, on research, and on public service. It measures the number of undergrads who ultimately earn Ph.D.s, external support for 'cutting-edge research,' and the efforts the University makes to introduce students to the ethics of service. The ranking of 117 puts the University very close to our goal of being assessed as in the top 100 national universities by all measures, and actually places the University deep within the top 100 of all public national universities. Obviously, we are pleased."

The editors say they used three criteria that they "believe best measure the impact schools have on the country. The first is social mobility: does the school do a good job recruiting and graduating poorer students? The second is research: is the school supporting the scientific and humanistic study that is key to our national strength, by producing Ph.D.s and winning research grants? And the third is service: how effectively does the school foster an ethic of giving back to the country, either through military or civilian service?"

Washington Monthly measured all three areas — social mobility, research, and service -- and came up with a combined score. UND's overall score of 34 puts it in company with such schools as the University of Connecticut, Tufts University, the University of Southern Mississippi, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and the University of South Carolina, Columbia.

"We are extremely pleased by the dramatic gain in UND’s ranking by the Washington Monthly. The gains achieved this year reflect the growing quality of our rograms and the success of our students. We are especially pleased with our movement up the rankings since the criteria used by the Washington Monthly are very consistent with our mission within the state of North Dakota.

Clearly, we are doing very well in the areas that are important to North Dakota,” said Greg Weisenstein, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We have often talked about UND emerging as a world-class university. This is further confirmation that we are indeed on a trajectory to achieve this distinction, while at the same time maintaining our focus on service to the state of North Dakota.”

Weisenstein said UND has earned other accolades for its focus on service. He noted that last November, UND was accorded a spot on the first-ever U.S. President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its consistent excellence in community engagement. A month later, UND was one of only 76 schools nationwide selected by the Carnegie Foundation for inclusion in its new community engagement classification, and one of only nine to make the Outreach and Partnerships category.