Students walking on Brock Commons

Longwood’s reputation was already on the rise in the annual U.S. News college rankings. This year, it’s also being recognized as the “Best Value” among Virginia public universities.

The latest rankings out today from U.S. News & World Report continue a trend of steadily rising reputation compared to peer institutions. Longwood moves up two spots among public institutions in the Southern region, to No. 6 overall. That continues a steady climb from No. 12 in 2013.

I’m especially proud to see the excellent value of a Longwood education recognized. We know that our work in recent years to have among the very lowest annual tuition increases in the state – including a freeze this year – really matters to students and families.

President W. Taylor Reveley Tweet This

This year the magazine also made Longwood the top public institution in Virginia included on its Best Value ranking of regional Southern universities.

“Rankings can fluctuate year to year, and they aren’t the focus of our goals at Longwood,” said President W. Taylor Reveley IV. “But when an institution rises over time, it’s because of a rise in underlying numbers that do matter. Those include survey results on how others view our academic reputation, our success in helping students graduate, and continuing to add full-time faculty to keep classes small at a time when most institutions are doing the opposite. All those things count in the formula but they aren’t just numbers – they shape the college experiences and lives of our students.”

“I’m especially proud to see the excellent value of a Longwood education recognized,” Reveley said. “We know that our work in recent years to have among the very lowest annual tuition increases in the state – including a freeze this year – makes a real difference to students and families.”

Longwood is ranked on four lists in today’s U.S. News & World Report:

  • #6: Best Public Universities, South Region
  • #13: Best Universities, South Region (up from #25 on last year’s list).
  • Best Value, South Region
  • Best Undergraduate Teaching, South Region

Among the factors that account for Longwood’s sustained rise in the rankings: a graduation rate that exceeds expectations and a strong freshman retention rate—the number of students who return for their sophomore year. Both were points of emphasis in the 2015 Strategic Plan.

Also, Longwood continues to invest heavily in full-time, tenure-track faculty – offering students smaller classes taught by professors who are making their career at the institution. Since 2012, Longwood’s ranks of tenure and tenure-track faculty have increased by 43 faculty members, amounting to growth of 25 percent.

That comes as universities across the country have scaled back full-time faculty hiring, relying more on adjuncts, graduate assistants, and part-time staff to teach classes. Longwood has capped Civitae Core Curriculum classes—the general education requirements that make up the foundations of citizen leadership—at 25 students, a far cry from the 100+ seat lecture halls that are common on college campuses.

In its rise in the rankings, Longwood has moved ahead of several well respected institutions, including the Converse College and University of Mary Washington. On the list of regional public universities in the South, the top three Virginia schools included are James Madison, Christopher Newport and Longwood.

The Best Value ranking system compares overall ranking to total cost, factoring in the amount of need-based aid and average discount given. Longwood is the only public university ranked in that category this year.

“We have been extraordinarily diligent and worked very hard to keep college costs affordable for families,” said Louise Waller (MBA ’10), vice president of administration and finance. “Across the country, the cost of higher education is ballooning, putting it more and more out of reach for families. That’s not the case at Longwood, where our conversations always focus on keeping the sticker price as low as possible. It’s fulfilling to see all of that work recognized. And as a Longwood graduate myself, I know that the quality of education we deliver is second to none.”

The university as a whole isn’t the only thing to be recognized for excellence. Just last week, the Longwood Nursing department was named the No. 1 department in Virginia, and among the best in the nation by RNCareers.org, thanks to its 100% licensure pass rate for the last three years—a claim few other schools in the country can make.

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