The newest U.S. News & World Report college rankings call the University of Lynchburg one of the top values for higher education in the South.
The news organization ranked the University of Lynchburg 20th on the list of Best Regional Universities — South, out of 122 schools ranked in that category. Lynchburg also earned the number 9 spot on the regional list of Best Value Schools and 10 on Best Colleges for Veterans.
“We are thrilled that the U.S. News & World Report recognizes the impact and value of a University of Lynchburg education,” Dr. Kenneth R. Garren, president of the University of Lynchburg, said. “Our faculty and staff ensure that students learn inside and outside the classroom so they can grow personally and professionally. That work is reflected in these rankings, but it is seen every day in the student experience.”
Behind the rankings
The U.S. News & World Report bases its rankings on institutional data about class sizes, student retention, graduation rates, student-faculty ratio, alumni support, and other factors.
“The U.S. News ranking and the data behind it reflect the work our faculty and staff do, day in and day out, to bring dynamic students to Lynchburg and help them achieve, as well as the ongoing support of our alumni,” Garren said.
This year’s improved rankings reflect an increase in students returning after the first year, which U.S. News highlights as an indicator of student satisfaction. Dr. Allison Jablonski, provost, pointed out that the University of Lynchburg’s graduation rate is higher than the graduation rate predicted by U.S. News, showing that Lynchburg surpasses expectations.
Jablonski credits engaged learning for the retention and graduation rates. Lynchburg students are more likely to participate in high-impact, engaging learning practices than their peers, according to the National Survey of Student Engagement, she said.
The 2020 U.S. News ranking also reflects an increase in the percentage of Lynchburg first-year students in the top 25 percent of their high school graduating classes. But Rita Detwiler, vice president for enrollment management, pointed out that it is not unusual for Lynchburg to attract a strong freshman class. “Talented students from typically 25 different states have continued to pursue the University of Lynchburg as their home,” she said. “It’s the consistency of their academic profile, year after year, that is impressive. These types of students find academic and personal success at Lynchburg.”
The University of Lynchburg also had an alumni donation rate of 12 percent, outpacing more than half of the other southern universities in the top 20.
“Our Advancement division has placed specific emphasis in the last few years on engaging our alumni in the life of the institution and building a culture of philanthropy among our students,” Dr. J. Michael Bonnette, senior vice president of advancement, said. “This manifests itself in giving, over time.”
The next step
The University is focused on future changes that will further enhance the student experience.
A new residence hall set to open this month will provide an environment where students can continue building a thriving community. A new general education program, launched this fall, along with new majors and minors, will give students new learning opportunities that prepare them for life and work in a complex world.
Construction projects for science and athletics facilities are being planned now.
“Our top priority is to give students a fantastic experience at the University of Lynchburg, preparing them to thrive in their careers and make an impact in their communities,” Garren said. “New programs and facilities will help our students reach their goals, and that is our goal.”