Published on September 28, 2016 by Philip Poole  
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Samford University is the top-ranked university in Alabama according to new rankings released Sept. 28 by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education.

Samford is ranked #218 out of the 1,061 U.S. universities and colleges that appear in the new student outcome and teaching-focused rankings.The ranking is drawn from 15 performance indicators that have been selected in order to answer the questions that matter the most when choosing a university.

Other Alabama institutions numerically ranked by The Wall Street Journal, in order, are the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Tuskegee University, Auburn University, the University of Alabama, Spring Hill College and Birmingham-Southern College. Other Alabama schools listed but not individually ranked were the University of South Alabama, Auburn University-Montgomery, Alabama State University, Alabama A & M University, Jacksonville State University, Faulkner University, the University of North Alabama, the University of West Alabama, the University of Mobile and Huntington College.

“Rankings are just one measure of a university’s effectiveness and reputation, but it is especially rewarding to be so highly ranked in our state and nationally by an organization as prestigious as The Wall Street Journal,” said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. “Because student engagement and outcomes are key to these rankings, it affirms the work of our faculty and staff in providing the rigorous academic preparation our students need to be successful in the marketplace.”

Times Higher Education is a global higher education data and analysis business with headquarters in London, and offices in San Francisco, Chicago, Melbourne and Singapore.

Phil Baty, Times Higher Education rankings editor, said, “Our aim is to assess each university’s success in achieving their educational mission, rather than focusing on a narrow set of inputs. Following a year of conversation with American higher education stakeholders, we shared the Wall Street Journal’s vision for a different type of U.S. ranking system — one that does not fall into the trap of simply measuring university selectivity and wealth, but puts at its heart a university’s ability to deliver valuable outcomes and education for its students.”

The ranking is based on 15 factors across four categories: Forty percent of each school’s overall score comes from student outcomes, including how they fare after leaving campus, 30 percent from the school’s resources, 20 percent from how well it engages its students and 10 percent from the learning environment.

Data sources for the rankings include the Times Higher Education U.S. Student Survey of 100,000 current U.S. students, and the annual Times Higher Education Academic Reputation Survey of 10,000 scholars in 133 countries, along with public data on areas including completion rates, graduate employment and loan repayments.

Samford scored highest in student engagement, based on those survey results. Also, Samford has a three-year average of 93 percent of its undergraduates having jobs or being in graduate school within six months of graduation. 

Samford’s student-faculty ratio is a relatively low 13 to 1.

The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education officials said the ranking values schools that focus their spending on classroom instruction, and rewards both teaching and research excellence. It also places emphasis on student outcomes.

The new Wall Street Journal ranking continues Samford’s growing national reputation. Samford recently was ranked #4 among regional universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report, and has been highly ranked for academics and value by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, The Economist and The Princeton Review.

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Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.