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Universities make the grade

HIGHLY RANKED — Franciscan University of Steubenville was among several local universities that ranked high in a report released Tuesday in U.S. News and World Report. (Photo by Michael D. McElwain)

STEUBENVILLE — Three area universities have received praise and high marks from one international publication.

¯ As it has since 1998, U.S. News and World Report ranked Franciscan University of Steubenville among the elite top-tier of Midwest universities–tied for 15th overall this year.

The 2021 U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings assesses 1,452 U.S. bachelor’s degree-granting institutions on 17 measures of academic quality.

The university was tied for second among best Midwest universities for first-year retention rate — demonstrating that once students start at Franciscan, a high number of them stay until they graduate. Franciscan also placed third overall for students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school class, an indicator of academic quality.

Under the best value schools category, the university ranked 10th, meaning Franciscan is an excellent value when factoring in the costs and benefits received from its educational mission.

“We are honored to be recognized again by U.S. News for our academic excellence. This is a tribute to our dedicated faculty across all disciplines of study,” said the Rev. Dave Pivonka, TOR, president of Franciscan University. “It’s interesting to note that U.S. News focuses solely on academics, so when you factor in Franciscan’s vibrant faith life you can see why students from all 50 states are attracted to our mission, which combines academic excellence in a passionately Catholic environment.”

¯ West Liberty University moved up in three categories in the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges publication.

WLU moved up seven places in the Regional Universities South, two spots in the social mobility category and two spots in the top public schools slot. WLU is the highest ranked West Virginia public school in all three categories.

“Despite the many uncertainties of today, West Liberty University continues to deliver a quality education on a safe and friendly campus at an affordable cost. The U.S. News and World Report continues to recognize this fact,” said Stephen Greiner, WLU president. “I am grateful to all the faculty and staff that work so hard daily to improve our campus and strengthen our tradition of excellence in education, even during challenging times.”

The U.S. News rankings, looks at colleges and universities across the nation and ranks them according to established criteria and an annual U.S. News statistical report survey, completed by most colleges. U.S. News provides nearly 50 different types of numerical rankings and lists to help students narrow their college search.

West Liberty is West Virginia’s oldest institution of higher education and offers nearly 70 undergraduate majors and 30 programs, online and on campus.

¯ Wheeling University has been named the best regional university in West Virginia in the 2021 U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges Rankings. Also, Wheeling University was named a Best Value School among its peers.

The university was rated 59th among best regional universities, South Region by U.S. News, making it the highest ranked university in the Mountain State again this year. According to the publication, Wheeling has the highest composite score of regional universities in West Virginia.

“We are proud to once again be recognized for academic excellence by U.S. News and World Report. This ranking validates Wheeling University’s commitment to educating men and women to excel in their chosen fields, while remaining true to our mission to prepare our students for lives of leadership and service,” said President Ginny R. Favede.

Wheeling University delivers an education that is both rigorous and grounded in the mission, Favede added.

“Our students graduate ‘on time’ and are well-prepared to enter graduate school or the workforce. Regardless of the path they take, our students know they have a responsibility to contribute to their local communities and they are ready to do so,” she explained.

The publication also named Wheeling University as a best value school among regional universities in the South. To determine which colleges and universities offer the best values for students, U.S. News & World Report factors academic quality and cost after accounting for total expenses and financial aid.

According to U.S. News, 54 percent of Wheeling University’s students receive need-based aid, while 70 percent of that aid is provided through scholarships or grants.

“Wheeling University was founded with the mission to provide men and women of Appalachia with a quality, Catholic education. Sixty-six years later, this institution remains true to that founding principle and we do so at a great value,” Favede said.

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