U.S. News & World Report listed Grinnell as the third best liberal arts college in the country for undergraduate teaching in rankings released this month.
The rankings are intended to highlight the colleges with faculty and administrators most committed to high-quality teaching. Grinnell College ranked third, behind peer institutions Davidson College in North Carolina and Carleton College in Minnesota, respectively.
The rankings are based on a survey of college presidents, provosts and admissions deans who were asked to nominate up to ten colleges they believed were most committed to undergraduate teaching.
According to the U.S. News website, “the best undergraduate teaching rankings focus attention on one very important part of undergraduate academic experience that is not always directly measured in a college’s regular peer assessment survey results and in its overall ranking within the 2013 edition of the Best Colleges rankings.”
Actual experiences in the classroom may be the best measure of the College’s academics for current students, but the relevant statistics include that the College has a 9:1 student-faculty ratio, with 62.3 percent of classes having fewer than 20 students and the average first-year retention rate is 93.8 percent.
“Grinnell puts a lot of emphasis on teaching in both its recruitment and retention policies and practices and is very proud of a fine faculty that combines a commitment to excellent teaching with active programs of research,” said Chair of the Faculty Kathryn Kamp, Anthropology. “Our ranking as one of the best undergraduate teaching institutions reflects this.”
This survey is separate from the U.S. News’ more widely followed overall college rankings. Some colleges had varied spots on both rankings. Centre College in Danville, Ky., for example, did not appear in the overall rankings but appeared fifth in undergraduate teaching. Williams College ranked first in the overall rankings and tied for tenth with Swarthmore College in the undergraduate teaching rankings. Grinnell ranked 22nd in the overall rankings this year.
“The overall rankings include both elements directly relating to teaching and several that do not, such as alumni giving and the number of applications received by admissions,” Kamp said. “It is my belief that, due to strong admissions efforts and results last year and this, our overall ranking is likely to improve next year.”