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Catawba gets high marks in U.S. News and World rankings for fifth year

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Catawba College rose one spot on a popular set of college rankings, making it one of the top regional colleges in the South and North Carolina.

This year, the college ranked seventh on U.S. News and World Report’s list of South regional best colleges, tied with South Carolina’s Erskine College. That’s up from eighth place on the same list last year. The college has placed in the top 10 for five years in a row.

“The college doesn’t actively seek to increase the ranking as a goal,” Dean of Students Jared Tice said. “What we do is actively work every day to ensure more students retain into their sophomore, junior and senior year, and persist to graduation.”

Overall rankings are based on a collection of weighted metrics, with graduation and retention rated the highest, followed by undergraduate academic reputation and faculty resources. Financial resources, graduate indebtedness, alumni giving rate, selectivity, graduation rate performance and social mobility also factor.

High Point University, another North Carolina institution, claimed the top spot on the same list as Catawba this year. Other North Carolina institutions found their way into high placements on the publication’s other lists, including the larger regional and national institutions.

Appalachian State University is considered a regional university and ranked sixth overall on that separate list. Appalachian is the highest N.C. institution on that list, and Western Carolina University is ranked after it at 25.

No state universities made the top 10 in the national category, but Duke University came in at 12th.

North Carolina State University, the largest college by enrollment in the state, came in 80th on the national list. The highest placement for a public university on the list was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at 28th place, tied with the private Wake Forest University.

Tice said the ranking is also a point of pride for the wider community to have an institution that ranks so high on the list and still predominantly serve local students.

Catawba College was ranked exceptionally well for veterans — in second place. According to the publication, institutions are ranked if they are certified for the G.I. bill, participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, enrolled a minimum of 20 full- or part-time veterans for four years in a row and ranked in the top half of institutions in overall rankings.

Tice pointed to other high rankings in sub-categories on the list, including 18th in social mobility and 22nd in best value. Those show the institution is able to graduate Pell Grant-eligible students from low socioeconomic status at a rate similar to non-Pell eligible students.

College administration had described the institution as a learning community before, and President David Nelson said the ranking is evidence of that community being excellent. He said the college is proud of the recognition.

Catawba Freshman Class President Ezra Nance said to be ranked seventh among 1,400 institutions is something to be proud of and an honor students live up to each day.

Livingstone College did not rank as highly as Catawba overall, but the college gets a few nods for being in the 70-91 ranking range for regional colleges, 48 in social mobility and in the 59-77 range for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Kimberly Harrington, director of public relations for Livingstone, said the college has been in the business of changing lives for 141 years, including many first-generation college students.

“When parents thank Livingstone College for giving their son or daughter a better chance for a brighter future, when a student shares that Livingstone was their only hope for a college education and that being here has changed the trajectory of their lives, when esteemed alumni affirm that had it not been for Livingstone, these are the standards by which we judge our impact,” Harrington said.

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