‘Simply the Best’: SRU, programs recognized repeatedly for excellence


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Sept. 13, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - We've got an accolade for that.

No matter if it is academic quality, the value of the education, the institutional environment, the community or successful outcomes for its students, Slippery Rock University has earned an award for it.

It's enough to make one's choice of which institution of higher education to attend a no brainer, while providing proof positive for those already enrolled at the University or those who have graduated from SRU that they made a "rock solid" choice.

One needn't look further than a quartet of recent honors bestowed upon the University for proof, including:

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  • "Top Public Schools - North" and "Best Regional University - North": According to U.S. News & World Report, SRU ranks among the top 24 public schools and top 100 regional universities in the North, which includes those universities in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maine, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, the District of Columbia, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont.
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"A College of Distinction": Collegesofdistinction.com cited engaged students, great teaching and a vibrant community in naming SRU a national "College of Distinction;" a Pennsylvania "College of Distinction; and a Public "College of Distinction." To be designated a "College of Distinction," a school's curriculum must emphasize core competencies such as critical thinking, writing, oral skills, research and global perspectives. The institution must also offer dynamic out-of-classroom learning and study abroad programs.

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"A School of Distinction": SRU earned 52 badges of distinction including 33 "best value" designations ranging from "Best for the Money" in Pennsylvania to "Best for the Money without Aid" nationwide from College Factual, a data-driven college choice resource, in ratings released by USA Today. College Factual awards badges to those universities that finish in the top one percent, five percent, 10 percent and 15 percent of each of the categories being evaluated. SRU earned 12 badges in the top five percent; 15 badges in the top 10 percent and 25 in the top 15 percent.

A trio of SRU education programs received national recognition from their respective specialty area professional associations. The American Association of Health Education awarded recognition to the health education program; the National Council of Social Studies recognized the social studies program; and the International Reading Association cited the graduate reading program.

"The recognition means the programs meet national standards for curriculum and student outcomes," said Keith Dils, dean of the College of Education. He said the peer-review evaluation examined student performance on certification exams, teaching skills and success at improving student learning.

SRU's graduate program in counseling was ranked fifth in the state of Pennsylvania by topcounselingschools.org. Top Counseling Schools ranked universities based on their program completion rate, job placement rate, licensing exam pass rate, accreditation length, research productivity and tuition and fees.

"Our purpose is to contribute to the academic mission of higher learning institutions by providing pertinent and objective information that counseling students and professionals find relevant to the field of counseling," said Jamie Agamalian, manager of online communications for Top Counseling Schools.

SRU's Bachelor of Arts in dance was ranked fifth in the country by dance-colleges.com, which noted that only 260 schools in 48 states offer bachelor's degrees with concentrations in ballet and ballroom, general dance and dance teacher education. Dance-college.com also ranked SRU as among the top 20 dance programs in the U.S. and No. 2 in Pennsylvania. According to evaluators, "There are 17 schools offering dance programs in Pennsylvania, and the best option is offered by Slippery Rock University.

SRU's online offerings joined their traditional classroom counterparts in receiving recognition. Affordableschools.net, a college rankings site centered on unique and affordable academic programs, named SRU among its top 25 most affordable online master's of mathematics/statistics degree programs.

The University's graduate programs in this category include: elementary education: K-8 math and science; secondary education: teaching math and science (9-12); and graduate certificates in applied research, statistics and measurement; and alternatives: MS data analytics. SRU was the only school from Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education to make the list, coming in eighth.

SRU was also named as one of Pennsylvania's best online colleges by bestcolleges.com, earning a No. 7 ranking among the top 25.

Best Colleges ranked schools based on academic quality, affordability and student experience. A school's admission and graduation rates account for 60 percent of the academic quality factor, while the remaining 40 percent is covered by retention and enrollment rates.

"As distance learning enrollments continue to rise, quality programs such as SRU's give students a flexible and affordable option for earning their degree," said Matthew Fitzpatrick, college outreach coordinator, Best Colleges.

SRU's online master's degrees in history and English also earned accolades from GradSource.com, ranking fourth and ninth in the country respectively.

If the strength of SRU's online programs wasn't impressive enough, the University found itself ranked among the country's top 10 institutions for online bachelor degree programs with the highest percentage of graduates in a span of six years or less according to data published by U.S. News Short List. The figures, based on students who enrolled in 2008-2009, reflected a 79.1 percent graduation rate for SRU, ranking the University seventh among the top 10 institutions nationally. Yet again, SRU was the lone State System representative to make the cut.

As many students will attest, one of the reasons why they love SRU is because of the people who work here. It's no wonder then why one of the top trade publications for colleges and universities, The Chronicle of Higher Education, once again recognized the University as one of the nation's "Great Colleges to Work For," and the Pittsburgh Business Times named it one of the "Healthiest Employers in Western Pennsylvania."

Anyone remotely familiar with SRU can tell you that the University is committed to being at the forefront of preparing the next generation of thinkers, innovators and entrepreneurs to help the world meet its profound environmental challenges.

And it walks the talk.

The Sierra Club, one of the oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organizations in the U.S., named SRU among its Top 125 "Cool Schools." SRU was the only institution from Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education to make the Sierra Club's list as one of 2016's greenest universities.

The Princeton Review named SRU as one of the "Top 353 Green Schools" in its 2017 Guide to Green Schools, and the University captured the 2016 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Postsecondary Sustainability Award; one of only 11 colleges and universities in the nation so honored.

"Our commitment to environmental sustainability is at the very core of what we do each day," said SRU President Cheryl Norton. "Our staff, faculty and students continue to seek out new opportunities to protect the environment through deliberate and thoughtful policies, actions and efforts that serve to improve our sense of ecological and social responsibility."

"One of the areas of recognition that we are especially proud of, is being recognized for the quality of education we deliver at an affordable cost," Norton said.

Both MONEY magazine and the ETC College Ranking Index have named SRU among the top "best value" universities nationally. Bestvalueschools.com named the University as one of the "Top 30 Best Value Colleges in Pennsylvania."

Other feathers in SRU's cap include being named among the: Top 10 College Dorms in America; Top 150 Best Public Colleges in America; Top 50 of America's Best Small Town Colleges; Best Colleges in the Northeast; Military Friendly University; one of the top 15 universities nationally for improving graduation rates and closing the gap between underrepresented and white students; and ranked among the top universities nationally for providing the best educational experience.

And what better way to top off the excellence in academics and value that an SRU education provides than by knowing - whether you're a perspective student or parent - that it all happens in one of the safest places in the country?

While safety is always a top priority on the SRU campus, Slippery Rock Borough is ranked among the safest college towns in the U.S. according to Utah-based SafeWise, a safety and home security company.

Using the most recent FBI crime statistics from 2014, SafeWise calculated the total number of crimes committed in each American town with at least one academic institution of higher education. They then weighted those numbers in relation to population statistics and other important factors. Finally, SafeWise researched relevant safety, health and educational programs that help make each "Safest College Town" safer and more secure.

Slippery Rock was ranked 15th among the nation's 30 safest college towns.

It's all part of a perfect storm of dedication, caring and inclusion that propel SRU, its faculty, staff - and most importantly - its students, to simply be simply the best.

MEDIA CONTACT: Robb King | 724.738.2199 | robert.king@sru.edu