Samford University climbed to 3rd in the South in the U.S. News and World Report's annual college rankings released Sept. 10. Samford was 4th in last year's rankings, continuing a three-decade tradition of being ranked in the top tier of its peer group. 

In the 2014 lists, Samford is the highest ranked university in Alabama in any peer group and ranks very high among Southern Conference peers. Only Elon (N.C.) University is higher, tying with Rollins (Fla.) University as the top schools in the South.

"This is a great milestone for Samford University, and many people have worked to make this possible," said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. "We continually assess our standing compared with our peers, but we always believe that the best measure of our success is in the academic and career accomplishments of our students, faculty and alumni."

Samford also was included in three of the special categories that are part of the 2014 rankings.

Samford tied for 4th among the eight schools ranked in the South for "A Strong Commitment to Teaching." According to U.S. News officials, these are schools in where "the faculty has an unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching." Schools on this list are compared against other peers in the same classification.

Samford was ranked 11th in the South on the "Great Schools at Great Prices" list. According to U.S. News officials, only schools ranked in or near the top half of their categories are included in this list because they are considered the significant values. Rollins was ranked 4th, and Elon was ranked 13th in this category.
In addition, Samford was one of 25 schools in the South to be named an "A-Plus School for B Students." Institutions on this list admitted a "meaningful proportion of applicants whose test scores and class standing put them in non-A territory, but who have a decent shot at being accepted and thriving," according to U.S. News.

The rankings are based on the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifications and assess such criteria as academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, class size, faculty/student ratios and alumni giving, according to R. Phil Kimrey, Samford's vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. Peer assessments from presidents, provosts and chief admission officers of institutions in the same classification also are used to determine the rankings.

Institutions in Samford's classification are ranked in four regions, Kimrey explained. The 625 institutions classified as regional universities represent the largest classification grouping in the U.S. News rankings.

Westmoreland added that he was "especially pleased" that Samford's peer assessment score continues to rise. "The rankings and assessments from our peers affirm that Samford's emphasis on rigorous academics is succeeding," he said.

Both Westmoreland and Kimrey noted that the new ranking is just one more milestone in a year of significant achievements. The university anticipates announcing another record enrollment, including a record freshmen class, when official totals are released Sept. 13. Also, the university recently surpassed the $173 million mark or 87 percent of the goal in its multiyear fundraising campaign.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.