Barry McNamara  |  Published April 06, 2022

One of Nation’s Best Academic Stewards

Monmouth’s work with students earns a No. 31 spot in new Academic Stewardship rankings released by Academic Influence.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Within the first few words of Monmouth College’s mission statement is the phrase “provides a transformative educational experience.”

That term may be hard to quantify, but Academic Influence – a team of academics and data scientists – has made the attempt through its machine-learning algorithms, which cull data from scores of online sources.

MARK KOPINSKI '79: Our faculty and staff make great use of our resources to provide our stud... MARK KOPINSKI '79: “Our faculty and staff make great use of our resources to provide our students a rich experience that ultimately means student success.”The organization recently announced that Monmouth is indeed delivering on that promise, ranking it among highly influential colleges that are truly preparing their students for the future by offering them transformational supports and strong pathways to careers.

In its first Academic Stewardship rankings, Academic Influence ranked Monmouth  No. 31 among the nation’s 4,000 colleges and universities and second in Illinois.

“This group took its inspiration from a series of podcasts by Malcolm Gladwell that decried how the standard academic rankings reward ‘schools that have a lot of money and spend it lavishly’ and penalize schools ‘that focus on making education more accessible to those with little or no money,’” said Monmouth President Clarence R. Wyatt.

The Academic Influence authors wrote that “schools that are exemplary in Academic Stewardship are doing everything in their power to help students and faculty to achieve their full potential.”

Wyatt said that Monmouth excels in “changing the arc,” referring to how the Monmouth experience changes not only the trajectory of the lives of its graduates, but also the lives with which they come into contact.

“That is the deep and enduring mission of Monmouth College,” he said.

Board of Trustees Chair Mark Kopinski ’79 said Monmouth’s national ranking is another reflection of how the College continues to put student success at its center.

“Our faculty and staff make great use of our resources to provide our students a rich experience that ultimately means student success,” he said.

Monmouth’s endowment has grown to nearly $140 million over the last eight years, and the College is currently in the final year of its Light This Candle Campaign, which will raise a minimum of $75 million.

“We are not a richly endowed college, and we don’t have the dollars to do frivolous things, but we make the most with what we have by remaining focused on students,” Koponski said. “Our leadership team is a good steward of the Monmouth today as well as the Monmouth of 30 years from now.”

Professor Sean Schumm, who chairs the College’s kinesiology department, said that philosophy plays out several ways with the students in his discipline.

“Our department has created a curriculum that specifically meets the needs of our student population and their life and career goals,” he said. “We focus specifically on connecting what we teach to tangible situations, people and groups throughout the curriculum. We move beyond the theoretical and connect the material to our students at a deeper level that allows them to transform their own thinking and positively affect their chosen lives and careers.”

“Faculty and students develop strong relationships at Monmouth College … And we celebrate with them when they get job offers and graduate school acceptances.”
– Joan Wertz

To arrive at their final Academic Stewardship rankings, Academic Influence used what its creators call “a precise mathematical formula,” gleaned from publicly available data, to measure two criteria: stewardship of financial resources and stewardship of human resources. Respectively, those criteria are defined as “using the money they have responsibly without waste” and “doing their best to help students, faculty and administration to flourish.”

Psychology professor Joan Wertz said faculty taking the time to develop personal relationships with their students helps set Monmouth apart.

“Faculty and students develop strong relationships at Monmouth College,” she said. “Whether it’s due to extra time spent outside of the classroom to understand course material, working on research together, or discussing the student’s educational and career goals, we get to know our students. That enables us to best advise them as they determine their next steps after Monmouth. And we celebrate with them when they get job offers and graduate school acceptances.”

Two Monmouth seniors headed to grad school in the fall agreed with Wertz.

MATT SIMONSON '22: There's really close faculty and student interaction because of the small... MATT SIMONSON '22: “There's really close faculty and student interaction because of the small class sizes, and there's a lot of opportunities to go to conferences and do really interesting research with faculty.”“There’s really close faculty and student interaction because of the small class sizes, and there’s a lot of opportunities to go to conferences and do really interesting research with faculty,” said Matt Simonson ’22 of Monmouth, who will attend the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. “I know all my professors on a first-name basis.”

Jordan Peckham ’22 of Farmington, Illinois, is headed to the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.

“I have siblings at larger schools, and it’s a different experience,” she said. “You can’t really skip classes here, because your professors know you. But that’s good, because they’re there to help you. They were really helpful when I was applying to graduate school. That kind of attention is really hard to get at a bigger school.”

And Wyatt said that the College’s faculty, staff and trustees should feel good for a job well done.

“We all recognize, of course, that we have much work to do,” he said. “But let’s take gratification from this recognition of our efforts, and take even greater inspiration for our work going forward.”

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