By Curt Yeomans
According to U.S. News and World Report's 2011 Best Colleges rankings, Morrow-based Clayton State University ranks among the top tier of a small group of regional colleges (formerly known as baccalaureate colleges) in the Southeast.
Clayton State is listed on the magazine's web site as being tied with Southern Arkansas University, in Magnolia, Ark., for the No. 11 spot on the list of top, public, regional colleges in the South (out of 21 public schools).
The web site also shows Clayton State as No. 57 overall (out of 102 schools), however, when public and private Southern regional colleges are ranked together.
U.S. News and World Report ranks colleges and universities using a formula that takes into account a variety of factors, including graduation rates, high school guidance counselor opinions, freshman retention rates, undergraduate academic reputation, faculty resources, student admissions selectivity, financial resources, and alumni-giving rates, according to the magazine's web site.
The web site also reports that the top 75 percent of schools in each category are placed in "Tier 1" ranking categories. The remaining 25 percent are listed as "Tier 2."
Clayton State University Spokesman John Shiffert said this year marks one of Clayton State's best showings in the annual rankings. "We've been ranked in various categories in the past, but we've never made 'Tier 1' before, so this is certainly a big honor for us," he said. "This is very exciting news."
The Southern regional colleges list includes baccalaureate colleges from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, according to the U.S. News and World Report web site.
"While the 'U.S. News and World Report' survey is but one indication of our progress, it is edifying to see the rise in ratings, and our designation in the first tier of institutions in our classification," Clayton State President Tim Hynes said, in a written statement. "We believe that our rise to a ranked regional institution reflects recognition of the work of our faculty and students to support learning."
Ouachita Baptist University, an Arkadelphia, Ark., private school, was ranked by the magazine as the top regional college, of any type, in the South, while the University of South Carolina-Aiken topped the list of public, regional colleges in the South.
Clayton State University, which has been ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the most diverse of all baccalaureate/regional colleges in the South, six times in the last 10 years, slipped to the seventh spot in that category in this year's rankings.
The regional colleges, according to the magazine's web site, are those that focus mainly on undergraduate studies, so they are listed in separate rankings from the more well-known, national universities, such as Harvard University, Yale University and Princeton University.
Large public and private universities in Georgia, including the University of Georgia, Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Georgia State University and Georgia Southern University are ranked among the national universities. Emory is the highest-ranked Georgia school (No. 20) on the list of top national universities.
Georgia Tech was ranked No. 35, and the University of Georgia was tied with Boston University, Fordham University, Ohio State University, Purdue University, Southern Methodist University, and the University of Maryland, at No. 56.
Georgia State and Georgia Southern are ranked among the "Tier 2" national universities. According to the magazine's web site, the numerical rankings of "Tier 2" schools are not published.