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RC Described as Up and Coming, Hopes for More

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John Stang – News Editor

For the first time Roanoke College was ranked number seven on U.S. News and World Report’s up and coming institutions. This is just one step in what the RC administration hopes will be a helpful leap for it to make it on the top 100 list.

There are various reasons why RC was chosen for this spot, such as the new curriculum, the new renovations on campus, drawing distinguished faculty, and of course the student body.

“There is usually a lag between perception and reality.  As you get further away from the campus, the status weakens. The outside world is beginning to see us for who we really are,” said Brenda Poggendorf, the Vice President for Enrollment and the Dean of Admission and Financial Aid.

Part of that expanding reputation is shown through the number of students applying to RC. According to Poggendorf, RC has seen record numbers of applications for the last eleven years. In 2010, the goal was 4,500 applications. The admissions office was just five applications short of reaching that goal. Out of the number who applied, 66 percent were accepted, illustrating how the college is becoming more selective. New promotion campaigns by the admissions office and general word of mouth have contributed to these increases.

Besides enrollment, the Intellectual Inquiry Curriculum has also been looked highly upon by other schools, which gives RC an advantage in the ranking system.

“It’s different because it’s both skills-based and topic-based,” said Dr. Richard Smith, the Vice President and Dean of RC.

These new rankings provide hope RC get closer to being one of the top 100 schools for U.S. News and World Report. Smith states that to reach the goal, the college is trying to focus on several different aspects of education. Finding ways for students to learn beyond the classroom with programs like summer scholars, the undergraduate research assistant program, internships, and other various programs are initiatives that the college is pushing.

Additionally, the administration has a goal to become one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country. Factors such as high retention rates, which have been six to seven points higher in the last three to four years, faculty receiving grants from prestigious institutions, and faculty members continuing to publish quality work are all ways to reach that goal. Smith also explained that having a Phi Beta Kappa chapter is also one of the biggest validations of an institution. 

Finally, the college also hopes to expand its facilities to accommodate more student needs. The college has plans to build a new residence hall next to CAR and a new campus community center where Bowman currently resides. Additionally, it plans to remodel both Trexler and Life Science. These examples and the completion of Lucas Hall demonstrate the college’s plans to boost its reputation and show innovation.

However, it has been noted that the rankings can be flawed because, according to Poggendorf, U.S. News and World Report is very statistics based. This means it can be hard to measure the quality of an institution from the list.

“U.S. News and World Report rankings are very flawed.  They are the rankings people use.  They also do not rank the quality,” Smith said.

George Mason University, for instance, is also on the list even though RC has been around longer.  Smith explained that GMU has the advantage of being a state institution and wants to be a stronger research institution unlike RC whose goal is to be a top liberal arts college.

Overall, the system seems to show students that the college has potential to be a strong contender.

“Being on the up and coming list shows the success of our curriculum and the hard work of the RC administration, faculty, staff and students,” said Daniel Ballou ’13.