In the first week of September, Washington Monthly magazine released a list of its 2010 top national universities. FAMU made the list at No. 74.
The only other Florida school to make the list was the University of Florida at No. 42. Only two other HBCU’s made the list, Clark Atlanta at No. 61 and Howard at No. 70.
Before we go any further, let’s consider the purpose of rankings in the first place. Rankings are used to help students figure out where they potentially want to attend school and which of those schools offer the kind of financial assistance that appeals to them.
The list was based on a school’s recruitment, graduation rate of low income students and the percentage of students who receive Pell Grants. The list also considers the research a school conducts, and how the school encourages and succeeds in getting the students to give back to their country, either through extracurricular activities or community service. So what exactly does this ranking say about FAMU?
According to the information from the rankings list, 41 percent of FAMU’s graduates are from low-income based families and 52 percent of the school’s students receive Pell Grants. This speaks volumes of how the university goes above and beyond the call of graduating students in dire financial need; something which has been etched into its mission statement since its founding.
Recently, Egwu Kalu, assistant professor of chemical and biomedical engineering, received a scholar grant to teach and conduct research at Covenant University in Nigeria. Last week, the university was awarded over 4 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In June, John Cooperwood, associate professor of basic sciences in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, received a patent for a drug that would assist in the treatment of triple negative breast cancer.
These are just a couple of examples of the cutting-edge research FAMU is conducting.
But aside from all of that, why should these rankings matter to the administration, faculty, the student body and the university community?
Although, this rankings list is not as prestigious as U.S. News or Princeton Review’s college rankings list, there is a strong possibility that some students will choose to come to FAMU based on Washington Monthly’s rankings list, but that is not the case with many Rattlers who decide to pursue their education on the highest of seven hills.
A definite plus about FAMU being in the top 100 is that this could be a major catalyst in changing how people, who have neither attended nor worked for FAMU, perceive our school. And to show them that this is not just another HBCU or state school in Florida that is easy for students to get accepted into. We are an exceptional institution with a higher standard for learning. Unfortunately, there is a strong possibility that someone could brush this list off as nothing more than a bogus piece of information.
With this year’s increased enrollment, the list should continue to boost admissions and contribute to President Ammons’ goal to reach more than 15,000 students by 2015. This is because people really do base their decisions on what they see on TV and read in magazines and books. This rankings list should improve our chances of reaching that goal.
What’s most interesting about this list is, many students know nothing about the Washington Monthly’s ranking. Even with so much happening on campus, it is clear the slightest piece of information could pass us by. So, this should be a real eye opener to the students who attend FAMU, especially the freshman class, who can now say that they attend a school in the top 100.
This ranking for FAMU would be impossible without the talent of the student body, faculty and staff. In essence, the ranking means that FAMU, no matter how many issues we may encounter, is in the nation’s eyes one of the top schools in the country.
Whether or not we are in the top 100, students will still flock to FAMU to obtain a degree and be ready for what the world has to offer. No rankings lists are needed for future Rattlers to decide that.