WMU lauded for societal impact and outstanding value

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News
Washington Monthly magazine cover.

2015 marks the third year that WMU has made the Washington Monthly list for top national universities.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University has been named both a top national university and one of the best higher education values in the Midwest by Washington Monthly magazine.

The bimonthly magazine that covers the nation's politics, government, culture and media released its 2015 College Guide Aug. 24. The annual issue takes a different approach to ranking the nation's colleges and universities. Its latest list puts WMU at the No. 92 spot among national universities and at No. 13 in the Midwest in the magazine's Best Bang for the Buck category.

About the list

To answer the question, "What can colleges do for the country?" Washington Monthly's college rankings rate institutions based on criteria the publication characterizes as college qualities that are good for the nation. Criteria include producing cutting-edge research and new Ph.Ds., encouraging students to give back to the nation through service, and promoting social mobility by recruiting and graduating low-income students. The publication says it explicitly rejects the criteria used by other high-profile rankings that identify schools "that spend the most money, exclude the most students and impress a small circle of elites."

The national universities list includes rankings for the various criteria examined. WMU's rankings—at No. 33 and 34 in service criteria detailing service staff and courses as well as service participation—were the highest in Michigan.

Washington Monthly also rates colleges that are doing the best job of helping non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices. The magazine calls itself "the only game in town" when it comes to letting families know which colleges in America provide the best value for ordinary non-wealthy students.

Repeat appearances

This is the third time WMU has appeared on Washington Monthly's list of top-100 national universities since the magazine launched the initiative in 2005. It's also the University's third appearance on the Best Bang for the Buck ranking. The latter ranking has been revamped this year to call out top-value colleges by their geographical region, instead of producing a single national list.

Only three other Michigan universities—Michigan State University, Michigan Tech University and the University of Michigan—are on the top-100 national universities list. On the Midwest Best Bang for the Buck list, there are 13 Michigan schools that include public universities, private liberal arts schools and religious institutions.

Also included in the College Guide this year is a series of articles on educational policy issues such as college cost and funding cuts by state legislatures, sexual assault issues colleges are struggling with, and the shortage of college slots for students with Pell grants.

"Millennials and their parents are furious over the ever-rising price of college," says Paul Glastris, editor of Washington Monthly. "So it is no surprise that higher education is becoming a hot-button issue of the 2016 campaign season, with presidential candidates offering plans for 'debt free' and 'tuition free' college."

The complete 2015 college rankings and feature stories can be found at bit.ly/collegeguide2015.

For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.