Calvin College ranked #1 in midwest


Photo courtesy Calvin College.

For the second year in a row, Calvin has landed at the top of U.S. News & World Report’s list of Midwest Regional Colleges, published this week. Last year, Calvin tied with Taylor University for first place, but this year Calvin bumped Taylor to second place.

Within the Regional Colleges Midwest category, the two schools swapped places for Best Undergraduate Teaching. Taylor won first place, while Calvin took second. This category measures “schools where faculty and administrators are committed to teaching undergraduate students in a high-quality manner,” according to the U.S. News methodology on their website. The only two other schools recognized for undergraduate teaching are Augustana University in South Dakota and College of the Ozarks in Missouri.

After Calvin was re-categorized in 2016, it topped the new list. It had previously been in the category National Liberal Arts Colleges.

According to a September 2016 Calvin News & Stories article on the tie last year, Calvin was reclassified into the Regional Colleges Midwest category. U.S. News uses the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education to sort schools into categories. Carnegie released an updated system in February 2016, which shifted some schools between categories. According to U.S. News’ website, Calvin was one of “only a handful of schools [that] changed categories.

“No, nothing has changed with Calvin’s educational philosophy,” said Cheryl Brandsen, provost of Calvin College. According to U.S. News’ updated methodology, regional colleges “focus primarily on undergraduate education, just as the National Liberal Arts Colleges do, but grant less than 50 percent of their degrees in liberal arts disciplines.

We were reclassified based on the type of degrees granted,” said Brandsen. Because Calvin grants slightly more degrees in professional fields than the liberal arts, it was moved from the National Liberal Arts Colleges list to Regional Colleges Midwest. “Calvin has been right on the tipping point…we are just on the bubble.

“Calvin was included in the Regional Colleges ranks for many years prior to 2008 when our degree mix first tipped us into the National Liberal Arts category,” added Russell Bloem, vice president for enrollment management.

The competition for this new regional category may be surprising. Calvin’s rival school Hope College is not a direct competitor in the regional category, but it appears in the National Liberal Arts Colleges category, tying for 106th this year. Five institutions in Michigan are listed on the National Liberal Arts Colleges list: Albion College, Alma College, Hillsdale College, Hope College, and Kalamazoo College.

Aside from the national category, even the Midwest region itself is split between colleges and universities. This means Cornerstone University, a slightly smaller Christian school only four miles away, ranks in a separate category. Cornerstone came in at 115th in the Regional Universities Midwest category. Aquinas College placed as a university, not a college, ranking at 16 in Best Value Schools in the region.

The only other institution in Grand Rapids to appear in the same category as Calvin is Kuyper College, a school with less than one tenth the total enrollment of Calvin. Kuyper was ranked 59th in Regional Colleges Midwest. Only the top 60 ranks are published. The list of Regional Colleges Midwest includes 173 schools from Michigan, Indiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota.