SEPTEMBER 17, 2007

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USAO ranked No. 1 on U.S. News’ best Values list

Photo of three USAO students laughing on campus.
Students experience their first taste of college life on the USAO campus during Freshman Orientation Week, 2006.

Moving to the top of the exclusive “Great Schools, Great Prices” list in U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges guide, the University of Science and Arts takes the No. 1 spot among all baccalaureate colleges in the western United States ranked for both academic quality and reasonable cost.

Under its ambitious Mission Enhancement Plan, USAO has aggressively raised academic standards while keeping costs much lower than national competitors. For the seventh year in a row, USAO remains the highest-ranked public college in Oklahoma in the annual rankings by America’s Best Colleges. The 2008 edition hit newsstands Aug. 10.

This year, USAO also moves up to the second tier among the top undergraduate colleges in America on the magazine’s “Baccalaureate Colleges” list, previously called the “Comprehensive-Bachelor’s” category.

For five years in a row, USAO was ranked No. 1 in the western United States among the few public colleges across America on that list.

“We feel we’re within striking distance of becoming a first-tier school in the baccalaureate category,” said Dr. Sanders Huguenin, vice president for academic affairs. “This has been an explicit goal of our Mission Enhancement Plan, and we will achieve it.”

Academic reputation is a key factor, USAO President John Feaver said after the magazine’s announcement. “USAO's academic quality rating is 3.4, according to the magazine's formula. That puts us among the solid private schools on the list, and is the central reason we do well among all public schools.

“Of the 320 baccalaureate colleges listed, USAO is ranked in the top 7.2 percent academically,” Feaver said. “Only 4.4 percent have a higher academic ranking.”

Add small class sizes, low student-teacher ratios and affordability, and that pushes USAO’s ranking higher.

“In the ‘Great Schools, Great Prices’ list, 190 colleges and universities are included nationally,” Feaver said. “USAO appears as the top ranked college in the western United States. USAO is one of only 13 public institutions included on that list. Of the 40 baccalaureate colleges listed, USAO is the only public school. Our faculty, students and alumni take great pride in this recognition.

“This distinctive list is based on the ‘best value’ as it relates to a school’s academic quality,” Feaver continued. “The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal. USAO was the only public college in Oklahoma listed as a ‘best value.’”

Besides quality, USAO also earned praise by the magazine for helping students achieve their educational goals with less debt. Only 90 schools across America – in all categories – are included on the “Least Debt” list. USAO is one of the 20 “Baccalaureate” colleges nationally whose students graduate with least debt. Further, USAO is listed as one of the top five in the western United States.

"We ranked in the top five in the west for students graduating with the least debt and 31 percent of our students graduated debt-free,” said Mike Coponiti, vice president for business and finance. “Combine those facts with our academic ranking and students find solid value here; USAO stands out in Oklahoma higher education.”

Contact: Randy Talley, USAO, (405) 574-1337