University in ‘Top 30’

The University of Central Arkansas continues to rank among the top 30 public institutions in the South, according to the 2014 Best Colleges rankings from U.S. News & World Report.

UCA has kept its high position among other public institutions over the last 10 years. UCA ranks 28th in the Top Public Schools category among regional universities in the South.

President Tom Courtway said the U.S. News and World Report ranking is considered to be one of the most prestigious rankings of institutions of higher education by a media outlet.

“A continuation of UCA ranking in the category of Top Public Schools in the South is very important,” he said. “This shows the university has an excellent reputation and strong academic programs.”

A regional university is defined as an institution that provides a full range of undergraduate majors and master’s programs, according to the U.S. News & World Report.

The U.S. News & World Report 2014 Best Colleges guidebook includes rankings of 1,800 institutions nationwide. The rankings are based on peer assessment; retention and graduation rates; faculty resources; student selectivity; financial resources and alumni giving.

UCA’s Institutional Research office provides data and completes a survey each spring.

Courtway said he is pleased that UCA ranks in the top 30.

“We are embarking on an aggressive plan to continue to improve in all aspects of our operations, and we expect that our institution will continue to rise in these rankings over time. UCA offers excellent educational opportunities for our students and we are pleased to be recognized in this prestigious publication.

Steven Runge, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said, “[This ranking] is very important for student recruitment and that is important when UCA is searching for faculty.”

Runge said UCA tries to build a strong educational environment for students and achieve recognition from the public side.

“[We are] ensuring that we have the very best faculty and staff and that we work to ensure that we recruit students who are capable and highly motivated,” he said. “We must have facilities that enhance the processes of learning and discovery and academic programs that challenge our students and whose outcome result in our graduates realizing their goals and achieving their dreams. It is about building and sustaining a culture of excellence in everything that we do every day.”

As for future plans, Runge said the university must be evaluated.

“We must be serious about looking at what we are doing, assessing how it is working, and always finding solutions to problems and ways to build upon the good things we are accomplishing,” he said. “It is about continuous improvement. We are living that model now.”

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