OBU Rises To #2 In U.S. News 2002 Rankings of “America’s Best Colleges”
September 6, 2001For the tenth straight year, Oklahoma Baptist University has been ranked as a "top 10" school in the annual U.S. News & World Report ranking of "America's Best Colleges." OBU is listed as #2 in the 2002 ranking of "Best Comprehensive Colleges-Bachelor's" for the western region of the nation. The "America's Best Colleges" rankings will appear in the Sept. 17 issue of U.S. News, which goes on sale Sept. 10. The ranking is the highest ever for the private liberal arts college. OBU was rated third in the 2001 listing of regional liberal arts colleges in the West. The national news magazine restructured its rankings for the 2002 issue, to correspond with the Carnegie Foundation's classifications, which were redefined in 2001. "We are delighted to be rated so highly," said OBU President Mark Brister. "Our faculty and staff work hard to offer an outstanding education. External confirmation of that success is always welcome news." The U.S. News rankings are derived from a formula that incorporates the institution's academic reputation, freshman retention rate, graduation rate, average class size, student/faculty ratio, percent of faculty who are full-time, average scores on ACT and SAT exams, high school rank of the freshman class, the institution's acceptance rate for applied students, and the percentage of alumni who financially support the school. Linfield College, of McMinnville, Ore., was the top ranked school among comprehensive colleges in the West. Compared to other "top 10" schools in the West, OBU had the highest percentage of freshmen who were in the top 25 percent of their high school graduating class. The university also fared well in the freshman retention rate, graduation rate, and percent of faculty who teach full-time. "The fact that we rank favorably in the areas of student retention and the quality of our freshman class is a compliment to the kind of student that we attract, and to the work of our faculty members," said Dr. Brister. "Our faculty challenge students to excel, and in the process we keep attracting strong students." On the OBU campus Thursday afternoon, students had varied reactions to news of the high ranking. "It makes me feel confident that I am attending a reputable institution," said Matthew Packer, a sophomore theatre major from Singapore. "I would still go here whether we were ranked second or 54th," said Stephanie Hester, a junior English major from Sand Springs. "I love the school for reasons other than rankings." OBU's dean of admissions, Michael Cappo, said the U.S. News ranking helps OBU gain the attention of prospective students across the nation. The percentage of OBU students coming from other states has increased steadily in recent years. "We consistently have students and parents tell us they first learned about OBU through the U.S. News rankings," said Cappo. "The rankings are a starting point for many students, but while being called a ‘best college' gets their attention, they tend to decide on OBU because of the programs we offer and the people they meet when they visit the campus." "Consistently high rankings imply that, over an extended period, OBU has done the right things to achieve quality," said Dr. Joseph R. Weaver, OBU senior vice president for academic affairs. "When compared to the same standards as other institutions we are always evaluated as being among the best. "Even though the particular colleges and universities in our U.S. News & World Report category have changed since last year, the fact that we are still ranked high affirms that regardless of the competing institutions, we are recognized for our relative quality," said Weaver. Founded in 1910, OBU is a four-year Christian liberal arts college. The university offers 10 bachelor's degree programs, with 78 majors. OBU has an enrollment of approximately 2,000 students.