A commitment to enrolling low-income students, helping them participate in community service projects and earn degrees at an affordable price, has landed both of Elizabeth City’s universities on a national magazine’s list of the top 100 bachelor’s degree-awarding colleges in the country.
For the third year in a row, Elizabeth City State University is ranked No. 1 among all baccalaureate colleges, according to Washington Monthly’s September-October College Guide for 2014-15 published Monday. Mid-Atlantic Christian University is ranked No. 17 on the same list.
Unlike other publications that release annual college rankings, Washington Monthly says its guide aims to identify institutions that are “acting on behalf of the true public interest.” The guide measures colleges and universities’ contributions to society in three areas: social mobility, research and service.
The social mobility category is based enrollment of low-income students and helping them earn degrees, while research recognizes research expenditures, particularly at schools whose undergraduates go on to earn doctorate degrees. Service ranks colleges according to participation in organizations like the Peace Corps and ROTC, as well as by federal work-study funds spent on service and community service participation, among other factors.
“We all benefit when colleges produce groundbreaking research that drives economic growth, when they put students from lower-income families on the path to a better life, and when they shape the character of future leaders,” Washington Monthly editors said in a press release.
The publication ranks institutions in the following categories: national universities, master’s universities, baccalaureate colleges, best-bang-for-the-buck and affordable elites. Both ECSU and MACU appear in the baccalaureate category.
ECSU Interim Chancellor Charles Becton said in a press release that he is thrilled to see ECSU ranked No. 1 in the baccalaureate colleges category again.
“Washington Monthly clearly recognizes this university’s value to this region,” Becton said. “What ECSU has done, with limited resources, is truly remarkable.”
Flora Bryant Brown, ECSU’s interim vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, agreed that the magazine’s top ranking demonstrates “the hard work of the university community and our strong commitment to help students succeed.”
MACU leaders were also pleased with the ranking that they said demonstrates a university genuinely acting in the public interest.
“At Mid-Atlantic we educate ministers,” President Clay Perkins said in a press release. “Many will serve in churches. Many will serve in the marketplace. But all serve. ... We are honored to be acknowledged for our service to others.”
John Maurice, MACU’s vice president of advancement, similarly said, “Those who would lead must first learn how to serve.”
According to Washington Monthly, 70 percent of ECSU students and 61 percent of MACU students receive federal Pell grants, which are awarded to low-income students. ECSU has a 43 percent graduation rate, while MACU’s graduation rate is 47 percent.
ECSU’s low cost — a net price of $1,225 — is far lower than any of the other top 100 bachelor’s degree-awarding colleges. MACU’s net price is $17,012, according to the college guide.
In the research category, editors considered research production and the number of undergraduates who go on to earn Ph.D.s relative to school size. According to the magazine, ECSU spends $6.83 million on research, earning it a rank of fifth. ECSU ranked 149th in the number of undergraduates who go on to earn a Ph.D.
MACU’s research expenditures total $0, ranking it No. 59 and tying it with 42 of the top 100 universities according to that criterion. MACU ranked 205th in the number of undergraduates who go on to earn a Ph.D.
In the service category, the publication ranks ECSU 152nd in the number of Peace Corps volunteers it produces; 13th in the percentage of students who serve in ROTC; 112th in the percentage of federal work-study funds spent on community service projects; 1st in the number of students participating in community service projects and total hours served; and 61st in the number of full-time staff supporting community service, the number of academic courses that incorporate community service, and the number of scholarships for community service.
Washington Monthly ranks MACU 158th in the number of Peace Corps volunteers it produces; 29th in the percentage of students who participate in ROTC; 11th in the percentage of federal work-study funds spent on community service projects; 14th in the number of students participating in community service projects and total hours served; and 1st in the number of full-time staff supporting community service, the number of academic courses that incorporate community service, and the number of scholarships for community service.