Take notice: West Virginia University is making leaps in its standing among the best public higher education institutions in the country.

Guided by the ambitious 2020 Strategic Plan for the Future, WVU soared in this year’s U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges rankings, released last week. The report ranked WVU No. 89 among ‘Top Public Schools’ – up eight spots from No. 97 last year.

Overall, WVU rose 12 spots to No. 164 in the report’s “Best National Universities.” Last year, WVU was ranked No. 176.

WVU was also listed as an “A-Plus School for B Students,” where “non-superstars have a decent shot at being accepted and thriving—where spirit and hard work could make all the difference.”

U.S. News & World Report compiles its rankings every year based on a variety of factors, including graduation rates, freshmen retention, faculty salaries, alumni contributions, and acceptance rates. Predicted and actual graduation rates are up 1 percent this year, according to the report, and alumni giving increased 4 percent.

President Jim Clements attributes WVU’s rise in the rankings to the University’s faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters.

“Our campus community came together in 2010 to create a strategic framework for West Virginia University’s future,” Clements said. “Our early success is evident in these latest rankings. Our faculty, staff and students have brought numerous awards and distinction to WVU in so many ways, and our alumni and supporters have helped us at an unprecedented level this past year. We continue to set new records in a variety of categories and that is due to a complete team effort.”

Provost Michele Wheatly believes the University will carry this momentum into the future.

“Becoming a premier university is all about agility and speed,” she said. “The fact that we have jumped up eight spots in our national rankings is impressive. We can expect our competitors to watch our plays closely from now on.”

Implementation of the Strategic Plan has surely pushed WVU forward.

“This is very gratifying, considering we’re in the first-year of the Strategic Plan,” Wheatly said. “It confirms that we’re getting recognized nationally as a better quality university.”

The Strategic Plan contains five specific goals:

  • Engage undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in a challenging academic environment.
  • Excel in research, creative activity, and innovation in all disciplines.
  • Foster diversity and an inclusive culture.
  • Advance international activity and global engagement.
  • Enhance the well-being and the quality of life of the people of West Virginia.

“As we move forward with a roadmap to 2020, our University will only thrive and prosper globally, nationally and locally,” Clements added.

Administrators across campus are celebrating the new rankings.

“All of us at Health Sciences are delighted by the jump in the rankings and our role in making this such a great University,” said WVU Health Sciences Chancellor Christopher C. Colenda. “It’s proof that through education and research we can transform the lives of West Virginians. This is a testament to the hard work of our faculty; without them, we would not have achieved this milestone.”

News of the rankings increase comes on the heels of the University’s land-grant celebration kickoff. C. Peter Magrath, former interim president of WVU and current president of Binghamton University in New York, delivered a speech Monday on the allure of the land-grant institution and how it needs to advance in the 21st century.

Land-grant events on the WVU campus will run until 2013. The celebration coincides with the sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary of the 1862 Morrill Act, which paved the way for WVU’s founding.

WVU opened its doors in 1867 with a land-grant mission to teach agriculture and engineering to a broader segment of the population.

“Over time, our mandate grew and our impact has reached beyond our state, bringing West Virginia to the world and the world to West Virginia,” Clements said. “While WVU’s reach is global, our commitment right here as West Virginia’s 21st century land-grant university remains the same. We are committed to creating what we all want for West Virginia a vibrant economy, healthy people, and a great future for the next generations.”



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