SBU one of 22 universities nationwide to receive ‘A’ rating for curriculum

Southwest Baptist received an “A” rating, based on general education course requirements, in the 2013-2014 edition of “What Will They Learn?” The report was released today by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

“As a liberal arts university, we have committed to providing a well-rounded education while preparing students to be servant leaders in a global society,” said SBU President Dr. C. Pat Taylor. “This report affirms that commitment to high academic standards.”

The study examines four crucial components of higher education excellence and value: the curriculum (rated “A” through “F”), the four-year graduation rate, freedom of speech on campus, and college cost. The analysis is based on publicly available information found in course catalogs and, occasionally, syllabi.

Only 22 institutions nationwide (2 percent) received an “A” grade for requiring at least six of seven subjects that are essential to a liberal arts education: literature, composition, economics, math, intermediate level foreign language, science, and American government/history. SBU requires all but the foreign language. The average institution requires three of the seven courses.

“It is a significant honor for SBU’s curriculum to receive a grade of ‘A’ in this national study,” said SBU Provost Dr. Bill Brown. “One of the challenges facing universities today is to provide an up-to-date curriculum that not only prepares students for today’s jobs, but also prepares them to be life-long learners, good communicators and critical thinkers.

“We believe SBU does these things extremely well and does them in a Christian environment.”

ACTA’s website, whatwilltheylearn.com, states that, unlike other college rankings, this study is focused on what students are — and are not — learning. “There is one thing other rankings won’t tell you: which universities are making sure their students learn what they need to know,” according to the website.

The study also shows that SBU’s tuition is about $5,000 lower than the average tuition of $24,930 among the top 22 schools and the University’s graduation rate is above the national average.

Other colleges with an “A” ranking are Pepperdine University, Thomas Aquinas College, Colorado Christian University, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Clark Atlanta University, Kennesaw State University, Morehouse College, University of Georgia, St. John’s College (MD), Gardner-Webb University, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, St. John’s College (NM), U.S. Military Academy, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Baylor University, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, University of Dallas, University of Texas – San Antonio, Bluefield College and Regent University.

“We feel very honored to be among 22 schools listed as earning a grade of ‘A’ from ACTA,” Dr. Taylor said. “The list is quite impressive.”

More detailed data for the 1,091 colleges and universities evaluated is available at whatwilltheylearn.com.