Culture of Service Earns Mary Baldwin Top 10 Spot in Washington Monthly Ranking

August 23, 2010

“What are colleges doing for the country?”

That is the question the editors at Washington Monthly magazine began asking in 2005 to develop a head-turning take on national college ranking.

Their answer: Mary Baldwin University is doing a lot. When compared with nearly 550 master’s-level universities in the nation, Mary Baldwin comes in at No. 8, recognizing that service to community and country is not an option; it is part of campus culture.

Washington Monthly uses measures such as the percentage of students who receive federal financial aid, how many graduates go on to earn doctorates, and hours of community service relative to student population to rank colleges in three categories: social mobility, research, and service. Mary Baldwin received notably high marks for its ROTC presence (ranked 14th overall) — fueled by the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership — and the percentage of federal work-study funds spent on service (10th).

“I have sometimes remarked that the essence of my job, as president of Mary Baldwin University, is to change the world for the better, one woman at a time. The right kind of college education can do so much to influence a person’s impact on others, ” said President Pamela Fox. “It is gratifying that the objective data used by Washington Monthly demonstrate how successful we really are in making a difference, for our students and for all those whose lives they will touch.”

Mary Baldwin is the highest-ranking Virginia institution on any of the magazine’s lists. Other Virginia schools on the Top 50 Master’s Universities list include University of Mary Washington (19), James Madison University (28) and Hampton University (32). College of William and Mary (10) and University of Virginia (44) cracked the top 50 among national universities.

Service is rooted in Mary Baldwin’s Presbyterian mission, it is a central tenet of the college’s approach to the liberal arts and sciences, demonstrated daily in programs that promote local and global outreach. For example, in spring 2010, the college welcomed its first international Social Work field placement when two students worked with the Organization for Youth Empowerment in El Progresso, Honduras.

To complement these efforts, Mary Baldwin refined its core curriculum to enhance students’ understanding of how what they learn can have an impact on society. A new minor in Civic Engagement and a business program redesigned under the title Business for a Sustainable Future highlight the college’s ongoing mindset of social responsibility. The opening of the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement in 2007 further solidified Mary Baldwin’s commitment to engaged learning.

“At Mary Baldwin we try to focus all we do, in and out of the classroom, on empowering our students with the confidence and knowledge to take the lead, the compassion to serve, and the courage to change the world, ”Fox added.

Washington Monthly recently expanded its college and university rankings to include institutions such as Mary Baldwin that are classified as master’s universities by the Carnegie Foundation based on the strength of their graduate offerings.

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