By Felicia Taraczkozy, Assistant Online Editor
For the 15th straight year, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Union as one of the South’s best regional universities.
Tied with the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., Union is 15th on the list, the same spot it ranked last year. This is the highest Union has ranked to-date.
Regional universities typically include a full range of undergraduate programs, as well as include several master’s programs and a few doctoral programs. A total of 626 universities are ranked in this category across four distinct geographical areas — North, South, Midwest and West.
“While we would never allow rankings such as the U.S. News surveys to define us, we are proud that they do describe us in ways that are very accurate,” said Gene Fant, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and vice president for Academic Administration. “We are a place that values students, values excellence and underscores that all of our efforts merely serve to bring glory to God.”
Along with this prestigious ranking, Union also retained standings in the “Best Undergraduate Teaching,” “Up-and-Coming Schools” and “A-Plus Schools for B Students” lists.
“These awards are such an affirmation of our student body and the faculty and staff who are so focused on our mission of Christian higher education,” said Dr. Kimberly Thornbury, vice president of student services and dean of students. The awards speak to a stellar student body, an outstanding faculty, a joyful staff, and a culture of excellence and service. We are grateful and hope that others will look to us and see Christ at work in this place,”
Union has maintained recognition for its strong commitment to under¬graduate education for the third consecutive year. It ranked fifth among regional universities of the South as an institution “where the faculty has an unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching.” Only 56 schools in the U.S. were distinguished for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.”
“We offer applause for the Union faculty, who once again were listed among the top teaching faculties in the land, with a strong commitment to undergraduate teaching,” Dockery said.
The U.S. News & World Report rated Union as the third school in the South in the “Regional Universities” category on the “Up-and-Coming Schools” list, the fourth year the school has made this ranking. Union was one of 46 academic institutions selected for the list this year.
The annual rankings are largely based on criteria such as graduation rates, student-faculty ratio, selectivity and financial resources.
“I also want to offer congratulations to each and every member of the Union community — trustees, faculty, staff and students — for your help in propelling Union forward as one of the top 46 ‘Up and Coming’ universities in the country, and No. 3 in the Regional University category for the South,” Dockery said.
Union was honored as one of 19 “A-Plus Schools for B Students” in the South. The ranking is mostly based on Union’s 88 percent freshman retention rate, which was third highest among other schools in the category.
“When a student is led to Union, we want them to know that faculty and staff alike are working hard to help them reach that goal of graduation,” Thornbury said. “Our desire is that while here, our students would find Christ-centered community, deepen their understanding of their calling and prepare well to serve a world in need.”
Union has received other awards in the last year, including ones from Forbes’, the Chronicle for Higher Education and the Princeton Review.