A continued focus on community service and recruiting and graduating lower-income students at a much higher rate than average were the two major factors in Monmouth College’s rise in the 2013 Washington Monthly College Guide and Rankings.
Monmouth moved up nearly 100 spots over its 2012 ranking to 117th among national liberal arts colleges. The guide ranks more than 1,500 institutions, approximately 600 of which are national or regional liberal arts colleges.
Unlike U.S. News and World Report, the Washington Monthly College Guide and Rankings asks not what colleges can do for students, but what colleges are doing for the country. Are they educating low-income students, or catering to the affluent? Are they improving the quality of their teaching, or ducking accountability for it? Are they giving back to society in accord with the truest and most fundamental mission of non-profit institutions of higher education?
“Every year, we lavish billions of tax dollars and other public benefits on institutions of higher learning,” observes Washington Monthly on its website. “This guide asks ‘Are we getting the most for our money?’”
The guide rates schools based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories: Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating students, including those from low-income families), Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and Ph.D.s) and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country).
Monmouth, which traditionally outperforms in its actual graduation rate versus its predicted rate, ranked 40th in the nation in that category. It ranked 50th in the nation in the category of service staff, courses and financial aid. That category is based on a combined measure of the number of staff supporting community service, relative to the total number of staff; the number of academic courses that incorporate service, relative to school size; and whether the institution provides scholarships for community service.
Earlier this year, Monmouth College’s commitment to community service and civic engagement earned recognition from the federal government, which named the college to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The designation is the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.
Monmouth received the honor for three ongoing initiatives: the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, Dean David Timmerman’s Citizenship class and the Educational Garden, all of which were deemed to reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in the community.
“Coming on the heels of recognition earlier this year from the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, Washington Monthly has further recognized the college’s ability to both recruit and graduate students of all income levels and to develop the whole person by involving students in community service,” said Tim Keefauver, MC’s vice president for strategic initiatives. “This is consistent with the long-term mission of the college and helps make Monmouth College students better members of their communities in the future.”