KWC earns high marks
By Dariush Shafa, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Monday, September 26, 2011
U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings saw good things in Owensboro this year, with Brescia University ranked 21st and Kentucky Wesleyan College ranked 23rd in best colleges in the South and KWC earning the additional distinction of being sixth on the list of best value colleges.
The rankings, which focus on various data from the schools including class sizes, retention, graduation rates and costs, were announced last week. Rankings are also divided up into the North, South, West and East regions of the country, with Kentucky falling into the South.
Presidents from both KWC and Brescia said the rankings for their schools have value at various levels but are also important simply because of the recognition it brings with potential students. A major part of that is because of the popularity of the rankings’ issue.
“Historically, it’s their best-selling issue of the year,” said KWC President Craig Turner. “It’s always good to have attention, especially as competitive as things are in the higher education environment.”
Being named among the best value colleges, Turner added, is an especially big deal for KWC as Turner has made it a priority that the school ramp up future enrollment.
However, Turner said while it’s good for his work to come, the credit goes to his predecessor, former President Cheryl King.
“That’s a very strong endorsement of something our trustees have been working on, to keep the school competitive and affordable,” Turner said. “I think it’s a credit to Dr. King and the faculty and staff around here that they’ve brought Wesleyan to this point. Now it’s my job to help take us to the next level.”
The Rev. Larry Hostetter, Brescia University president, said he’s not only pleased with his school’s rank this year, but the change in that rank compared to last year’s.
“I’m very happy that we continue to be ranked as one of the top schools in the Southeast in our category,” Hostetter said. “I’m especially happy we’ve been able to move up those 10 points from No. 31 to No. 21.”
Hostetter added that not only does the ranking reflect what the magazine’s editorial staff thinks, but the opinions of other institutions’leaders.
“Part of the ranking is a peer ranking. They ask other presidents to offer some of their perceptions of the school. It’s also nice to be recognized by our peers,” Hostetter said.
Hostetter said like KWC, Brescia will also make good use of this information.
“It can become yet one more instrument in our toolbox for helping others understand who Brescia is, what we’re about and the quality of our educational experience,” Hostetter said. “It certainly is part of the total package when we present ourselves to prospective students.”
Turner said it’s also important to note that for a city of Owensboro’s size to have two colleges that rank in the report is significant.
“It’s wonderful for the community. I think Owensboro should recognize it’s unique for a community this size to have two nationally ranked institutions. It’s something to be proud of,” Turner said.
However, Hostetter said in the end it’s not the rankings that any school truly worries about, but the students that walk out its doors.
“The key is our students and what they’re going to give back to the community, both local and further-reaching. The measure of any school is ultimately going to be that,” Hostetter said.