Eastern receives higher rankings

Brooke Schwartz, Staff Writer

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Eastern ranked in the top 10 percent for “diversity, engagement, and teaching” and was the top ranking public university in Illinois and 8th in the Midwest, according to rankings published by the National Survey of Student Engagement and the U.S. News and World Report.

The NSSE’s website states the rankings are focused on, “the amount of time and effort students put into their studies and other educationally purposeful activities” and “how the institution deploys its resources and organizes the curriculum and other learning opportunities”.

The USNWR provides its rankings to make it easier for incoming college students to compare different universities.

To gather these rankings, the USNWR looked at different indicators of success, such as freshman retention rates and graduation rates.

Joshua Norman, the associate vice president for enrollment management, said he credits these rankings entirely to Eastern’s students and faculty.

“These (rankings) are a recognition of the grit that our students have to succeed,” Norman said. “It communicates the core of what we’re about, and that’s the support of our students for continued success.”

Norman said that it is in Eastern’s culture to work towards excellence and to focus on each individual student’s learning experience.

These rankings are also useful for sending out a message that resonates with potential students, Norman said.

Public Information Coordinator, Joshua Reinhart, also mentioned the importance of these rankings for potential students and their families.

“Prospective students and parents often make the decision about which college to attend together, and I think, perhaps, some of the older generations might be a little more familiar with the U.S. News and World Report rankings,” Reinhart said. “They’ve been around, I think, more than 30 years and 30 years ago they were used quite often as a reference to which schools provided the best value.”

Norman and Reinhart also mentioned the importance of these rankings for current students because it shows them the continuing value of their education.

Norman said that to keep these rankings up, EIU is planning on working with SAT this year to bring in a social-behavioral evaluation tool, in addition to the cognitive testing that students usually go through.

This pilot tool is meant to better test students’ retention rates and may be used for the entire Fall 2018 class, Norman said.

“We’re continually making efforts to make sure that those statistics that really speak to student success are cared for and invested in,” Norman said.

Both Norman and Reinhart said they hope those who see the rankings will appreciate the success and efforts of students, faculty and administration who help the university to run as it should.

“It’s not just about the services that Eastern offers, it’s about our student population and their ability to persist,” Norman said.

Brooke Schwartz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]