From the Office of the President
September 28, 2007
Dear Alumni and Friends:
This year the U.S. News & World Report has published a stand-alone ranking of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The list was released to the public and the media on September 28.
Much like U.S. News’s annual America’s Best Colleges issue, the rankings for the HBCU list were calculated through two survey elements: a statistical survey and a reputation (peer) survey. This was the first time U.S. News conducted the peer survey among only the HBCUs by asking head administrators to rate the scholarship and quality of all other black colleges they were familiar with. In this year's ranking, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) was ranked in the second tier (schools ranked after 34) based on the 2005-2006 data.
Bethune-Cookman topped many of the weighted categories so it is difficult to understand why the University did not rank among the top 20. Compared to the top HBCUs in America, B-CU was ranked 16th in relationship to its peers (receiving 3.4 points); 35th in graduation rate; 21st in percentage of classes with fewer than 20 students; 37th in faculty-to-student ratio, 21st in percentage of classes exceeding 50 students; 30th in freshman SAT scores, and 23rd of students who are in the top 25 percent in their high schools’ senior class
It is shocking that several institutions listed in the top tier are on probationary status with their regional accrediting agency and/or unable to complete the survey with more than N/A responses
While B-CU has "high" ratings in many categories, it is difficult to understand the "weights" assigned to various categories by this publication, especially those that are not in alignment with requirements by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the agency that determines whether a college or university can exist. News & World Report ranks only 10 percentage points to financial resources, a category that SACS ranks very highly.
We are appalled at the rankings and the formula used to suggest a hierarchy among Historically Black Institutions. For these reasons we are seeking clarity on why the report does not explain the complexity of the phrase “acceptance” rate. Bethune-Cookman rigorously attempts to complete as many applications as possible, so that they can be reviewed and decisions can be made on them, thus creating a larger pool of qualified students who meet the university’s academic standards.
Another fact not brought out in the report because there is no category to demonstrate it is the university’s recent achievement in increasing National Alumni Association giving by 63%.
At the present time, Bethune-Cookman University is stronger than ever with regard to its academics programs, endowment, audits, and accreditation status.
Thank you and God bless you for your continued commitment and support.
Trudie Kibbe Reed, Ed.D.
SEE ARTICLE AS PRINTED ON THE DAYTONA BEACH NEWS-JOURNALONLINE.COM
September 28, 2007
B-CU misses top ranking but still measures up
By MARK HARPER
DAYTONA BEACH -- For the first time, U.S.News & World Report has ranked historically black colleges and universities, and Bethune-Cookman University is relegated to the second tier.
Out of 70 schools rated by the magazine, B-CU failed to make the top 37 in the upper group. Alumni giving and its acceptance of students with lower college entrance exam scores were factors that lowered the school's ranking, while other categories were in line with the top tier.
Students, alumni and friends gathering in Daytona Beach for this weekend's homecoming will be "shocked," one school official predicted.
"It is surprising," said Willis Walter, vice president for institutional research, planning and accreditation. "In most of the categories, we rank very high -- if not at the top."
Bethune-Cookman's percentage of returning freshmen (73) is better than the average of the top tier. Its student-faculty ratio (17-1) and other measures also compared favorably.
Even the university's relatively low percentage of alumni donors (7 percent) doesn't appear to be that much lower than the majority of the top-tier schools.
Bethune-Cookman officials say the school has increased its alumni giving rate by 63 percent since 2005-06, the time frame upon which the rankings are based.
Another factor that hurt the university's rating was student selectivity, which accounts for 15 percent of the rating.
The university's mission, though, is to provide access to higher education for students who are not necessarily academic all-stars in high school, but who have shown the potential to become leaders, Walter said.
"If we had excluded more students, we would get more (rating) points," he said.
One of Bethune-Cookman's fiercest rivals, Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, was rated 13th despite revelations of financial and accreditation problems in recent years.
"It kind of makes U.S.News look silly," Bethune-Cookman spokeswoman Catherine Kershaw said.
A U.S.News & World Report editor did not return a call for this report.
Brian Kelly, editor of U.S.News & World Report, said in a news release: "This unique ranking offers for the first time an independent perspective on these institutions to help students and parents make an informed choice about one of life's most important and expensive decisions."
The magazine's ratings will be posted today at: www.usnews.com/blackcolleges.
Here is the 2008 "America's Best Black Colleges" Rankings:
1. Spelman College (Atlanta)
2. Howard University (Washington, D.C.)
3. Hampton University (Hampton, Va.)
4. Morehouse College (Atlanta)
5. Fisk University (Nashville, Tenn.)
6. Tuskegee University (Tuskegee, Ala.)
7. Claflin University (Orangeburg, S.C.)
8. Xavier University of Louisiana (New Orleans)
9. Dillard University (New Orleans)
10. Johnson C. Smith University (Charlotte, N.C.)
Note: Florida A&M University in Tallahassee was the highest rated of Florida's four historically black colleges and universities, at No. 13.
SOURCE: Compiled by U.S. News & World Report
Office of Public Relations
About Bethune Cookman University:
Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement. B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000. For more information, visit www.cookman.edu.