Best college rankings draw mixed emotions

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U.S. News & World Report magazine released its “America’s Best Colleges” survey and ranked St. Thomas at No. 124 – an increase of 13 positions from last year’s ranking.

“I definitely think we should be higher, like 50,” senior Amanda Sawatzky said. “This is just a great place to go to school.”

The rankings were based on several indicators including academic reputation, freshman retention rates and surveys from high school counselors.

St. Thomas competed against 262 American universities in the National Universities category.

Michael Ewen can be reached at

6 Replies to “Best college rankings draw mixed emotions”

  1. I may agree that the U.S News and World Report’s list of “America’s Best Colleges” might be an important list to rank high on, but one that would have even greater meaning would be to rank high on the Cardinal Newman’s list of recommended CATHOLIC schools. This would be really meaningful to those Catholics who are looking for a school which is remaining true to the teachings of the Church. Unfortunately, St. Thomas has not made that list and in fact has stated that the Cardinal Newman list of recommended Catholic schools is not one that is important to be on. Actually, not very many of our Catholic schools in this country have made that list, which says much about whether many of our Catholic schools are really Catholic anymore. For anyone interested, check out the Cardinal Newman Society on their web site for those schools which have made their list, and why UST has not.

  2. As a Catholic, I don’t see why UST needs to be included on a narrowly-defined platform of obeisance to doctrine. Unless we all challenge our beliefs, they are not beliefs at all, just habits forced upon us by authorities—not exactly free will, and certainly un-American. UST is an academic institution, not a propaganda machine.

  3. Don, I cannot understand why “as a Catholic” one would not see adherence to the teachings of the Church in which you believe as important to the integrity of an institution which calls itself Catholic.  I also find it strange that “as a Catholic” one would claim the teachings of the Catholic Church to be “habits forced upon us by authorities” if a Catholic institution chooses to adhere morally to the Church. It is the right and the responsibility of a Catholic university to adhere to and propagate the faith to deserve adding the name of the Church to the institution.

  4. Most of our students seek to “challenge” beliefs they don’t even half-understand. The Newman ranking is not (in theory) a test of “doctrinal obeisance” (much though I like that turn of phrase). It is, in theory, a ranking of colleges that skillfully and accurately present the Faith to their students.

    On the other hand, looking at the Newman list, I’m perfectly happy not to be on a list that has Ave Maria University on it. That place has a reputation for being tres sketchy, even in loyal Catholic circles.

  5. Sarah, et al;
    My son went to Calvin College, where professorial tenure REQUIRES adherence to Calvinist principles through actual membership in the Christian Reformed Church. (My son is not a CRC member.) To me, this automatically narrows both the pool of candidates and the objectivity—or, at least, the diversity in thinking & opinions—that are required for a true university. (Note: Calvin remains a college, not a university.) Belief untested is rote obedience, not a belief; and UST attracts a more diverse population of instructors & students because it does not adhere to a “Catholic only” talent pool. Discourse requires the challenges of defending—or changing—one’s beliefs, not shutting out the beliefs of others. Hope my karma didn;t run over your dogma.

  6. Don,
    Fascinating non-sequitur. Surely you can understand that there is a world of difference between forcing membership upon a student, and simply remaining obedient to the teachings of a religion to which an institution is affiliated. Of course a diverse student body is welcome at St. Thomas, but to attend a Catholic institution and then complain about Catholicism is simply illogical. We appreciate others’ ideas and subsequent discourse in order to strengthen our own faith and beliefs, as well as exersize our intellect, which is, undoubtedly, a good thing.
    Yet to Don and all who find the “rote obedience” of those who do not choose to challenge their faith to be so piteous, I don’t necessarily share your distaste. “Taking the form of a servant … he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2: 6-8) The ability to obey one’s faith, even the parts that seem useless, or don’t make sense, is a virtue. Not everything needs to be proven and indisputable to us, unless we all wish to be a bunch of doubting Thomas’ (or should I say “Doubting Tommies”).

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