U.S. News again names JU to first tier of “America’s Best Colleges”

By Phillip Milano

Jacksonville University is one of “America’s Best Colleges” for the 10th straight year, according to U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges 2014 list for regional universities in the South, released Tuesday, Sept. 10.

The University is again ranked in the first tier among regional universities in the South, with a 12 to 1 student-faculty ratio, two-thirds of its classes with fewer than 20 students, a full-time equivalent faculty percentage of almost 80 percent and 70 percent of its full-time faculty possessing the highest degree in their field.

“We consistently come out strong in these rankings because of our longstanding commitment to excellence,” said JU President Tim Cost. “The improvements across our campus in faculty, programs and facilities are showing up in the numbers of outstanding students coming through our doors. We will remain a vital, strong asset to our community and our region, with an affordable price tag and remarkable return on investment over our students’ careers.”

Jacksonville University is positioned well for the future, Cost added, as it boosts retention, draws more top-caliber students and enhances the student academic and social experience with upgrades such as those recently announced:

  • More nationally recognized faculty, some of whom have been honored by such organizations as the National Institutes of Health, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Pew National Fellowship Program, the Fulbright Scholarship Program and the American Council on Education;
  • New graduate programs, including Florida’s first master’s degree in public policy, which began this fall, and a doctorate in business administration and master’s degree in speech-language pathology, both planned for 2014;
  • More funding scheduled for student scholars and faculty research, including $15 million for scholarships and $3 million for faculty and student research alone earmarked in the University’s bold $85 million ASPIRE Comprehensive campaign; and
  • Sweeping changes to buildings and facilities campus-wide, including completely overhauled dining areas, a re-imagined JU River House as a student and faculty gathering spot, a brand new student veterans study center in the heart of campus and renovated student housing areas.

The U.S. News list ranks Jacksonville University in the first tier among regional universities in the South. The category includes colleges and universities that offer a full-range of undergraduate programs and provide graduate education.

JU’s strongest areas for the U.S. News rankings when compared to other schools were in its financial and faculty resources, according to Robert J. Morse, director of Data Research for U.S. News & World Report.

Also keeping JU competitive in the rankings are its small classes, small student-to-faculty ratio and competitive admissions policies. JU, a private university of more than 4,000 students, offers more than 70 majors, with the largest programs in business, marine science, nursing, aviation and visual and performing arts. Additionally, JU offers graduate degrees in education leadership, nursing, business, mathematics, marine science, public policy, orthodontics and choreography.

The University has been busy in the past year responding to education demands by creating close-to-market programs that are built around its core liberal arts offerings, said Dr. Bill Crosby, JU Chief Academic Officer.

“With our dedicated faculty and our new advanced-degree offerings in place or coming soon, including in speech-language pathology, health executive leadership, occupational therapy, health information management, business administration and public policy, JU is positioned as never before to respond to marketplace trends and student demand,” he said.

U.S. News & World Report computes its rankings using objective measures of academic quality provided by the schools and assessments by leaders at peer institutions. Data categories include student/faculty ratio, class size, graduation rate, percentage of full-time faculty, student selectivity, average SAT/ACT scores, percentage of highly ranked freshmen, alumni giving rate and others.

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