CNU, Hampton University, W&M make a strong showing in national rankings

In an influential scholastic ranking in which upward mobility is often difficult, Hampton University and the College of William and Mary held firm to their high spots, and Christopher Newport University took a significant step forward.

The 2018 ranking of colleges and universities by U.S. News & World Report comes out Tuesday, assessing the state of higher education in America by many different yardsticks.

For the sixth consecutive year, the College of William and Mary is ranked No. 6 among all of the nation’s public universities. For the third straight year, Hampton is third among historically black colleges and universities. Christopher Newport moved up to 11th among regional schools in the South, after placing 14th a year ago; among the public schools in that regional ranking, CNU moved from fifth place to fourth.

CNU has made steady progress since 2012, when it ranked 26th among regional schools and ninth among public universities in the South.

“No college in America has come so far so fast, and the data continues to prove it,” CNU president Paul Trible said in a news release. “We are one of the very best colleges in America because we have a rigorous academic curriculum, a great faculty, outstanding students and we emphasize leadership, civic engagement and honor.”

U.S. News breaks its rankings down into national universities, national liberal arts colleges and regional schools.

The rankings compare about 1,800 U.S. institutions. A U.S. News release said the annual project “focuses on academic excellence, with schools evaluated on hundreds of data points and up to 15 measures of academic quality.” Graduation and retention rates are given the most weight.

William and Mary once again ranked sixth among the country’s public schools, three spots behind the University of Virginia. Among all institutions, public and private, U.Va. ties for 25th (down a spot from last year) and William and Mary 32nd (after tying for 34th a year ago).

W&M Provost Michael Halleran said there are many annual rankings that he monitors just as closely, but he is aware of the influence that the U.S. News survey has with students.

“I don’t overly focus on U.S. News & World Report, but it is important because it matters to people who matter to us,” Halleran said. “It has an influence on prospective students and their families, so it’s good to see in a ranking like this that we continue to do extremely well as we are assessed by our peers, by graduation rates, by the quality of students who come in, and all that goes into the ranking.”

William and Mary ranked seventh in the nation for undergraduate teaching, 12th in the “best for veterans” category, and received specific recognition for its outstanding “first-year experience” orienting incoming students.

“From the very beginning, before they start classes, our students are meeting with faculty as they plan their courses,” Halleran said. “The reason why it’s effective is that it’s a joint effort. This is an agreeable place. I like to say there are very few sharp elbows at William and Mary, and that comes across from day one, or even in the admissions process. It’s a very welcoming community.”

HU again ranked third among historically black colleges behind Spelman College in Georgia and Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Among regional schools in the South, James Madison was the highest Virginia school at No. 7, just ahead of CNU at No. 11. Hampton ranked 21st on that list.

The new rankings are based on data gathered during the past spring and summer. Full rankings can be read at usnews.com/best-colleges.

Holtzclaw can be reached by phone at 757-928-6479 or on Twitter @mikeholtzclaw.

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