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UM cracks top tier of U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings

americasbestUniversity of Miami students returning to campus for the new academic year will have another source of pride as ’Canes—their university has cracked the top tier of what is annually one of the most anticipated college ranking lists in the nation.

UM has been ranked No. 50 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2010 edition of “America’s Best Colleges,” which hits newsstands on Monday. It rose from No. 51 last year and has moved up 17 slots in the past eight years, making it one of the fastest-rising institutions in the ranking of national universities.

“I am delighted with this recognition,” said UM President Donna E. Shalala, who added that she is proud of the University’s significant accomplishments as measured in student achievement, retention, and graduation rates as well as the caliber of faculty and facilities and the living and learning environment the institution provides.

UM President Donna E. Shalala comments on the top-tier ranking in U.S. News and World Report.

UM continued to improve in four key variables, showing marked increases in the average SAT score of its incoming freshmen (this year’s average score of 1285 is a 10 point increase from last year and a 110 point rise since 2001), the percentage of freshmen who were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduation class, six-year graduation rate, and freshman retention rate, which now stands at 90 percent.

Since 2001, when Shalala became president, UM has steadily improved in those four areas, which make up more than 33 percent of the formula used by the magazine to rank universities.

In addition, the rankings also revealed that the percentage of classes at UM with fewer than 20 students rose to 52 percent, a 5 percent increase over last year, while the University’s student/faculty ratio also improved. The alumni giving rate is 19 percent, up from 12 percent in 2001.

“While the changes from one year to the next in the U.S. News ranking tend to be relatively minor, the improvement in ranking for the University of Miami over the past eight years has been truly remarkable,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc. “More than anything else, the ranking reflects UM’s continuous improvement in admissions, retention, and graduation rates.”

UM’s top-tier ranking comes on the heels of the institution’s record-breaking Momentum campaign, which concluded at the end of 2007 and raised more than $1.4 billion for endowed chairs and professorships, scholarships, facilities, academic and medical programs, and other initiatives.

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