Posted by Philip Poole on 2014-09-09

Samford University continues to be ranked 3rd in the South in the 2015 annual college rankings released Sept. 9 by U.S. News & World Report. Samford also was ranked third in last year’s U.S. News list. 

Samford is the highest ranked university in Alabama in any peer group and continues a three-decade tradition of being ranked in the top tier of its peer group. Samford also recently was ranked the top university in Alabama by Forbes, Inc. 

“While this ranking is only one indicator of Samford's progress, I am pleased with the news," Samford President Andrew Westmoreland said. “Many people in the Samford community contribute to this success, but we also continue to strongly believe that our best measures of progress are in the accomplishments of our students, faculty and alumni.” 

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.

Samford has the highest graduation rates of any higher education institution in Alabama, Westmoreland noted, and freshman-to-sophomore retention rates continue to increase.

Institutions in Samford's classification are ranked in four regions, Kimrey explained. The 574 institutions classified as regional universities represent the largest classification grouping in the U.S. News rankings.

In additional to the overall ranking, Samford is included in some of the special categories that are part of the 2015 U.S. News rankings. 

Samford is ranked 3rd in the South for “A Strong Commitment to Teaching,” up one spot from their #4 ranking last year in this category. Samford is one of four regional universities in the South on the list. According to U.S. News officials, these are schools where “the faculty has an unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching.” 

Westmoreland especially praised the Samford faculty for this particular ranking. “Because we are committed to having all undergraduate classes taught by full-time faculty or highly-qualified adjunct instructors, it allows Samford to place special focus on undergraduate teaching,” he said. “This particular ranking affirms the important role that our faculty place on providing rigorous and high quality classroom instruction and advisement with our undergraduates.” 

Samford’s student to faculty ratio is 12:1, and the average class size is 20 students. 

Samford is ranked #12 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. Samford also has been nationally-recognized for its value and affordability by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and Forbes. 

Westmoreland also noted that the high rankings come at a time of “strong growth” for Samford. The university anticipates announcing a sixth consecutive year of record enrollments when official totals are announced Sept. 12. The university recently surpassed the $200 million goal for its multiyear “Campaign for Samford.” Construction is moving along for the new Brock School of Business building, and undergraduate and graduate programs are being added each year as part of the new College of Health Sciences that was launched in fall 2013. 

“We will not be content with the status quo," Westmoreland said. “We will continue to look to the future to ensure student success, financial strength and community engagement in all that we do."


Complete rankings

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. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 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 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.