In just its third year of classification as a master’s-level university, Mary Baldwin University continues to be named among the best colleges and universities in the country, according to the latest annual rankings byU.S. News & World Report . The college was listed in the top tier of master’s-level universities in the South for the third year in a row, with a ranking of 22 out of 131 schools in the category.
Mary Baldwin was also recognized as one of the best colleges in the Mid-Atlantic region by The Princeton Review this fall. In a new online feature added to the magazine’s annual college guide, the “Best Colleges: Region by Region” section profiles colleges and universities that “stand out as academically excellent institutions of higher learning.” The site also offers online application and a feature that invites students to gauge their chances of admission.
“What Mary Baldwin does best is guide students on the path to a successful future,” said Mary Baldwin president Pamela Fox. “Personal transformation — in mind, body, and character — is the result of key experiences in and out of the classroom.”
The most heavily weighted ofU.S. News’many criteria is what the magazine terms “peer assessment” — the opinions of presidents, chief academic officers, and deans of admission at other colleges and universities. This is considered an indication of academic excellence. Mary Baldwin scored a 3.3 out of 5 — as high or higher than 90 percent of the schools in our category.
Mary Baldwin also has a distinct advantage on other measures used by the report, such as a student to faculty ratio and an average class size that are lower than most other schools in the category. Other criteria include retention rate, graduation rate, and the percentage of first-year students who were in the top quarter of their high school class.
“The data that placed us in the top tier clearly shows at least one of the elements of our success: the low student to faculty ratio of 11 to 1 and small average class size,” President Fox added. “These allow us to personalize education, making sure that each student has those co-curricular and academic experiences that are so important.”
U.S. News’section on “Programs to Look For” — innovative programs designed to enhance the college experience — affirmed the direction of Mary Baldwin’s recently completed 10-year strategic plan. The centerpiece of the plan, available to the public later this month, is the development of a sequence of 10 key experiences, many of which are included in the U.S. News list. The eight programs identified to lead to student success are: internships and co-ops, a senior capstone, first-year experiences, undergraduate research and creative projects, learning communities, study abroad, service learning, and writing in the disciplines.
Historically a women’s college and currently Virginia’s largest such institution, Mary Baldwin has qualified as a master’s-level university since 2000–01 based on the strength of its graduate offerings. The college has two strong graduate programs that attract students from around the nation: the Master of Arts in Teaching program, established in 1992, and the Master of Letters/ Master of Fine Arts in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in Performance, added in 2001.
At the college’s core are three undergraduate programs: the Residential College for Women, the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted, and the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership, all based on the college’s Staunton campus. In addition, for over 25 years the nonresidential Baldwin Online and Adult Programs has offered undergraduate degrees to men and women beyond traditional college.