MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia University made the rankings of a Washington, D.C.-based publication that looks at what the nation's colleges are doing for the country.
WVU is ranked 139th out of the 245 national universities cited by Washington Monthly, a magazine that covers politics and government. This is the second year the publication has ranked liberal arts colleges and universities; WVU was ranked 157th in 2005.
In compiling the rankings, Washington Monthly examined how well these select public and private colleges and universities are turning out productive members of society and promoting research and other activities that benefit the country. There are about 2,500 four-year institutions in the United States, according to The Digest of Educational Statistics.
"It's always nice to be recognized for activities such as giving back to our communities and fostering research that will make a difference in society," said WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. "These initiatives are part of the mission of public, land-grant universities and are often overlooked in other rankings."
In ranking schools, Washington Monthly considers three criteria:
· How well they perform as engines of social mobility (ideally helping the poor to get rich rather than the very rich to get very, very rich)
· How well they do in fostering scientific and humanistic research
· How well they promote an ethic of service to country
"When colleges are doing what they should, they benefit all of us," the
publication's editors say in describing the rankings. "They undertake vital research that drives our economy. They help Americans who are poor to become Americans who will prosper. And they shape the thoughts and ethics of the young Americans who will soon be leading the country."
The Washington Monthly rankings differ from traditional rankings that focus on academic achievement, such as U.S. News and World Report, which also issues its rankings this month.
While academic achievement is important, reliable data on how much learning goes on in college classrooms, especially at elite institutions, are hard to come by, the Washington Monthly editors contend.
The only other West Virginia school in this year's rankings are Bethany College and West Virginia Wesleyan, which are ranked 105th and 166th, respectively, among liberal arts colleges. In neighboring Pennsylvania, 10 schools were ranked, including Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh.