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Pepperdine University is now officially ranked in the Top 50 National Universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Pepperdine is tied with Pennsylvania State University, University Park; University of Florida; and Villanova University for No. 50.
Dean Michael Feltner said that the recent boost in ranking is good news, and this is the first time that the university has ranked this highly in at least the last 10 years.
“I think everyone in higher ed[ucation] questions the value and validity of ranking, but there’s no question that the rankings shape the perception of external audiences and they are impactful for the universities, so it’s always pleasing when any group rates us highly,” Feltner said. “What I’m particularly pleased [about] is the factors that underlie the rankings are meaningful things like graduation rates and retention and class size and student faculty ratios, and that we continue to make progress to be better, because that helps the university and that helps Seaver College be better.”
Feltner said he is pleased by the fact that rankings are based on “things that we care about,” such as small class sizes, faculty resources and support, retention and graduation rates, and student-faculty ratios.
“The fact that on those metrics, that are measures of quality, we do well … that’s what, as the dean, I get excited about and that we want to continue to strive to move all of those metrics in a positive direction,” he said.
Pepperdine has the second-smallest undergraduate enrollment of any of the Top 50 schools after CalTech.
Feltner said he believes Pepperdine’s commitment to its Christian mission, and the integration with faith and learning, are what set it apart from other schools ranked in the Top 50. “I think that we can do that and do that well is meaningful and distinctive,” he said. “Our admission practices are a bit different in that we value service, we value students who are engaged in their church and engaged in volunteerism, and we give weight to that in the admission process. It’s not simply how high are your test scores or where are your grades, so I think that is meaningful for us.”
Provost Rick Marrs said that while he feels ranking systems can be imperfect reflections of academic institutions, he is happy to hear about Pepperdine’s being in the Top 50. “While we never play to the rankings or make strategic decisions to improve our ranking, we are delighted when major national rankings agencies recognize the quality of our academic programs and our students,” he said.
The weights assigned to each category and further details of the ranking methodology shift most years, and this year’s shift focused mainly on updates to the Carnegie Classification system and the ranking indicator for class size, according to the U.S. News website.
President Andrew K. Benton also said he was happy to hear about the news. “I am pleased that the work of our faculty and students is recognized by a number of external rankings services, especially U.S. News & World Report,” he said. “To be in the Top 100 of America’s 4300 colleges and universities is really quite remarkable and to be in the Top 50 is a very strong statement, indeed.”
This story was updated at 8:55 p.m. with a statement from Provost Rick Marrs.
This story was updated at 8:15 a.m. with statement from President Andrew K. Benton.
Follow Rachal Marquez on Twitter: @rachalmarquez23