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SMC moves up in rankings

Rebecca O'Neil | Thursday, September 12, 2013

U.S. News and World Report ranked Saint Mary’s No. 76 in the nation on its list of Best National Liberal Arts Colleges of 2014. Up from No. 87 last year, the College’s ranking has improved each year since 2009.

This year’s list, released Tuesday, is primarily based on the graduation and retention rates of 248 liberal arts colleges located throughout the United States.
Jessica Ickes, director of institutional research and assessment, said she hopes the school’s ranking reflects the continuing work of the administration.

“We would hope that the rankings are positively impacted by the work that the College is undertaking around the president’s strategic plan that, among other things, include continued focus on student success, the value of a liberal arts education and the unique benefits of a small, residential Catholic women’s College,” she said.

Ickes said the academic preparedness of Saint Mary’s first-year students has always been strong, and student graduation rates have consistently outperformed the predicted graduation rate calculated by U.S. News.

Saint Mary’s President Carol Ann Mooney said she expected the better ranking.

“I am not surprised that Saint Mary’s College continues to ascend in the U.S. News rankings,” Mooney said.

Mooney said she has been campaigning for the College to achieve national recognition since 2004 and has been taking proactive steps ever since.

Gwen O’Brien, director of media relations, said the Four Year Graduation Promise demonstrates the College’s confidence in its students’ abilities.

“Starting with the Class of 2017, students who follow the promise’s guidelines are guaranteed to graduate in four years or the College will pay for any additional courses a student needs to earn her degree,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said the program underscores what was already happening at Saint Mary’s.

“Approximately 93 percent of students who graduate [from Saint Mary’s] earn a degree in four years, so the promise is not a stretch for us,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said a good ranking puts Saint Mary’s on the map for high school girls looking for a top-notch liberal arts education.

“We know that national rankings are important to many high school students and their parents in the college search,” O’Brien said. “Having Saint Mary’s College ranked among the U.S. News top 100 Best National Liberal Arts Colleges for the fifth year running reinforces what we hope they know or have heard about the school, that Saint Mary’s College is an academically excellent liberal arts college where women develop their talents and prepare to make a difference in the world.”

Junior Cecily Medina said she believes Saint Mary’s has earned its high ranking.

“I feel proud that we are getting recognized because I think it’s a great school,” Medina said. “[Saint Mary’s] is not well-known but the ranking will obviously help people notice us.”

Ickes said Saint Mary’s must continue to improve, regardless of rankings.

“While we are pleased with the U.S. News rankings, it is most important to continue to excel in the work we do on a daily basis to foster a community of engaged learning,” Ickes said. “As we continue to keep our mission at the forefront of our work, we anticipate this will be reflected in the rankings.”