Rise in U.S. News ranking reflects FPU's student focus

By wayne.steffen on September 11, 2013 @ 1:35am

Long a top-tier institution in its category, FPU is now number 42 among regional universities west, which covers 15 states. Regional universities, according to U.S. News, provide a full range of undergraduate majors and master's programs and draw most of their students from surrounding states. Nationally there are 621 institutions in the regional universities category, divided by the magazine into four regions: East, Midwest, South and West.

U.S. News revised its formula this year to put more emphasis on whether students graduate than who gets admitted. Graduation-related data—including graduation and retention rates— is now the most-heavily weighted factor among the 16 used to determine rankings, accounting for 30 percent of the formula. Selectivity, based on high school class rank and scores on tests such as the SAT and ACT, is now 12.5 percent, down from 15 percent. Other factors include school reputation, class size and average student debt. The changes, "take into account the latest data and trends in higher education," U.S. News Director of Data Research Robert Morse told USA Today.

The changes in the formula play to FPU's strengths, said President Pete C. Menjares, Ph.D. "A university education is about transforming students so they in turn can transform their families, professions and communities," Menjares said. "We have long had a commitment to educate our students in ways that empower them to excel in college and beyond."

Many of FPU's 3,500 undergraduate, degree completion and graduate students are the first in their families to attend a university. Fresno Pacific has the highest graduation rate in California's Central Valley, and offers a four-year graduation guarantee to qualified students.

All students benefit from challenging academics and the support of faculty who are committed teachers as well as experts in their fields, according to Stephen Varvis, Ph.D., university provost. "For Fresno Pacific, the intensive work of our professors with students in courses and in research translates into higher retention and graduation rates, and to readiness for entrance into their chosen professions or graduate studies. We have been working especially with our STEM student (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students and we are seeing them succeed and graduate in very difficult disciplines," he said.

In another accolade,The Chronicle of Higher Education in August placed FPU among the top 10 Hispanic-Serving Institution's nationally in terms of graduating Hispanic students. "Recognition such as this affirms that Fresno Pacific University is fulfilling its commitment to academic excellence, leadership and service." Menjares said. 

See the complete list at colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges