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Spacer BGSU gets triple notice in 'America's Best Colleges'

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The report is in, and BGSU has reason to celebrate. The 2009-10 edition of U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” cites the University for excellence in undergraduate education in three categories—a strong commitment to teaching, first-year experience programs and learning communities.

Reflecting its strong emphasis on teaching, BGSU is ranked 11th with eight others among 80 institutions that have a focus on undergraduates in the “national universities” group. The group comprises public and private institutions including the University of Michigan and Howard, Princeton, Yale and Stanford universities. Rated by their peers, the 80 were singled out for their “unusual commitment to undergraduate teaching” and for “emphasizing that aspect of academic life.”

“It’s gratifying to be recognized by our peers in higher education as an outstanding university in which to receive an undergraduate education,” said BGSU President Carol Cartwright. “This illustrates our commitment to helping students succeed.”

BGSU faculty are known for their focus on engaging students in undergraduate research, service-learning that links out-of-classroom experience to the curriculum, and their availability to students.

“America’s Best Colleges” identifies national universities as those “262 American universities (164 public and 98 private) that offer a wide range of undergraduate majors as well as master’s and doctoral degrees.” To rank them, U.S. News assigns them to a group of their peers using basic categories developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Under “Programs to Look For,” a section that lists “schools with outstanding examples of programs that are commonly linked to student success,” BGSU is included for its First-Year Experience programs as well as its learning communities. Bowling Green was first included for the former in the 2006 edition of the report, and has been noted for its learning communities multiple times, beginning in 2003.

Says the magazine of first-year experience programs, “Orientation can only go so far in making freshmen feel connected. Many schools now build into the curriculum first-year seminars or other academic programs that bring small groups of students together with faculty and staff on a regular basis.” Among those on the list are Duke, Notre Dame and Purdue universities.

Getting students off to a strong start has been a priority for the University for a number of years. Extending that commitment by staying connected with and supporting students throughout their undergraduate experience is a key element of BGSU’s new long-term strategic plan, which emphasizes links between classroom learning and co-curricular activities.

One way of creating an integrated educational experience is through learning communities, an area in which Bowling Green has been at the forefront. U.S. News notes that “in learning communities, students typically take two or more linked courses as a group and get to know one another and their professors well. Some learning communities are also residential.”

BGSU has a number of these communities, ranging from those in which students share a common major, such as health science or urban education, to those in which they share a commitment to an area of interest, such as global connections or appreciation of the arts.

Villanova, Syracuse and Indiana universities are among those highlighted for their learning communities.

To view the listing for excellence in undergraduate teaching, visit:
http://rankings.usnews.com/best-colleges/national-ut-rank

For more on first-year experience programs, visit:
http://rankings.usnews.com/best-colleges/first-year-experience-programs

To view the list of universities with strong learning-communities, visit:
http://rankings.usnews.com/best-colleges/learning-community-programs


 
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August 24, 2009

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