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Western Continues to Prove Itself: Ranked Among Top 50 in U.S. News & World Report Midwest Regionals Top Tier

August 17, 2010


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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – For the sixth consecutive year, Western Illinois University is ranked among the top tier of best regional universities and is one of only two Illinois public universities ranked among the top 50 in the top tier, according to U.S. News and World Report's Annual College Rankings 2011 edition. Western is ranked 11th as a top public school among Midwestern Regional Universities. In addition, for the sixth consecutive year, the Princeton Review has named Western a "Best Midwestern College."

"Western has clearly established its national reputation for providing an outstanding academic experience for our students," said President Al Goldfarb. "Our commitment to providing high quality, accessible, and affordable higher education is consistently recognized."

Western is one of 37 public universities – only one other Illinois public institution is ranked ahead of WIU – included among the 107 Midwestern college and universities recognized as top tier "Best Regional Universities" by U.S. News and World Report. In past years, the regional groups were featured as "master's granting institutions" and "baccalaureate colleges" to reflect the official Carnegie classification. However, due to confusion among readers, the categories were changed simply to reflect "Best Regional Universities," according to U.S. News and World Report.

Western is listed 49th of 107 public and private schools on the top tier list of "Best Regional Universities." The institutions appearing on the "Best Regional Universities" list provide a full range of undergraduate majors and masters' programs, but offer few, if any, doctoral programs. The rankings are based on several measures: peer assessment (25%); graduation/retention rates (25%); faculty resources (20%); student selectivity (15%); financial resources (10%); and alumni giving (5%).

In addition to the top tier ranking, Western is also recognized as a "best" institution by U.S. News and World Report for graduation rates; freshman retention rates; least debt (class of 2009); highest proportion of classes under 20; most international students; economic diversity; and racial diversity.

"I am so pleased that our efforts and initiatives have been recognized. What is even more exciting is that the survey was based on 2008 data, which was extremely good. However, we continue to improve. For example, our 2009 graduation rates were the highest in the University's history," Goldfarb added. "I'd like to thank our faculty and staff for the work they do to make this a phenomenal educational institution and for their contributions to our students' success."

As well as the current U.S. News and Princeton Review recognitions, Western has been designated for a second consecutive year as a "Military Friendly School" by G.I. Jobs Magazine and is featured in the 2011 "Guide to Military Friendly Schools." According to G.I. Jobs, this honor ranks Western in the top 15 percent of all colleges, universities and trade schools nationwide that are doing the most to assist America's veterans as students. Western's new Veterans Resource Center will allow the University to serve student-veterans even more efficiently in the future, noted Vice President for Student Services Garry Johnson.

Also, for the second consecutive year, the Center for Student Opportunity's (CSO) "College Access and Opportunity Guide" has recognized Western as one of only three Illinois public universities for its retention of first-generation and low-income students. Western has also been cited as a "best practice" model institution among just 15 U.S. colleges and universities, and the only Illinois university cited, by the Southern Regional Educational Board (SREB) for retention and graduation rates. Western also is the only Illinois public university and the only Midwestern public university cited among 20 other U.S. public institutions by The Education Trust for successful graduation rates for Hispanic students.

"The designation by U.S. News and World Report and the recognition by the Princeton Review, G.I. Jobs Magazine, the CSO, the SREB and most recently by The Education Trust, further reaffirms our tradition of, and our commitment to, providing an outstanding education and for helping our students succeed and graduate," Vice President for Quad Cities, Planning and Technology Joe Rives noted.

In addition to its Cost Guarantee and GradTrac programs, Western offers a special admissions program to select students who wish to enroll, but have not achieved the minimum requirements for general admission. Among the entering freshman class of approximately 1,800 each year, Western admits 300 new freshmen who show academic promise, but who do not meet all minimum entrance standards.

"Western's commitment to academic excellence and educational opportunity – two of our core values – guides our decision-making. Our commitment to access remains one of our most important priorities," Goldfarb said. "We are doing an exceptional job in providing outstanding opportunities for all of our students, and our special admissions program, through the Office of Academic Services, helps those students who do not meet regular admissions criteria to succeed at WIU."

Forbes recently listed Western among the best of 610 institutions in the country. According to Forbes, whether a school is in the top 10 or near the end of the list, all 610 schools in the Forbes ranking count among the best in the country. Only nine percent of the 6,600 accredited post-secondary institutions in the U.S. are reviewed, and Western was the only Illinois public university among its regional peer institutions included in the Forbes list. The other Illinois public universities included are national doctoral universities.

For more information about Western Illinois University, visit wiu.edu and wiu.edu/qc on the web or www.facebook.com/wiu.edu.

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (DR-Shinberger@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations