Published on July 30, 2014 by Philip Poole  

Samford University is the top-ranked higher education institution in Alabama according to new national rankings released July 30 by Forbes, Inc.

Samford is ranked #203 out of the 650 universities nationwide that were included in Forbes’ 2014 rankings. Samford is the largest private university in Alabama, a distinction it has held for several decades.

Other Alabama schools in the rankings included Auburn University (204), University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa (335), Birmingham-Southern College (383), Spring Hill College (437), University of Alabama at Huntsville (466), University of Alabama at Birmingham (528), University of South Alabama (593), Troy University (630), and Tuskegee University (635).

“These rankings further affirm Samford’s value, affordability and academic stature,” said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. “We acknowledge that these types of rankings can be subjective from year-to-year, but also a great source of pride for Samford students, faculty, staff and alumni who celebrate the strong national reputation of their university.”

This is the seventh year that Forbes has partnered with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity to produce their national rankings. According to the CCAP website, the rankings tended to favor smaller, liberal arts institutions this year. Other factors considered by CCAP include graduation rates, graduate success in the marketplace, student debt and cost.

“Smaller, liberal arts colleges are concerned more with educating students than their research giant counterparts,” CCAP noted. “Their prestige is derived almost entirely from the quality of graduate they produce. Therefore it is not unreasonable to think that they would do well in this year’s ranking.”

“Samford’s focus always has been on providing a rigorous academic program for students and helping those students prepare to, hopefully, succeed after graduation,” Westmoreland said. “That and our affordability are things that set Samford apart when students and their families are comparing us with other institutions.”

Forbes concurred with CCAP’s assessment of the rankings. “What sets our calculation of 650 colleges and universities apart from other rankings is our firm belief in ‘output’ over ‘input,’” said Forbes. “We’re not all that interested in what gets a student into college. Our sights are set directly on [return on investment]: What are students getting out of college.”

Samford also compared favorably in cost with the other schools in Alabama. One other private school, Tuskegee University, costs less, but Samford’s total cost, as reported by Forbes, was lower than Auburn, University of Alabama, Birmingham-Southern College and Spring Hill College.

According to Forbes, the average age of the top 100 colleges is a “grand” 170 years, with an average founding date of 1843. Samford, the 87th oldest higher education institution in the U.S., was founded in 1841 and is in its 173rd year.