Knox College Leads in National Service Oriented Rankings

Washington Monthly evaluates colleges for their promotion of "the public good."

October 13, 2010

Washington Monthly magazineOnce again, Knox College has been highly ranked by Washington Monthly for the contribution the college makes to "the public good." Knox is ranked 37th overall among more than 250 national liberal arts colleges, and the highest among nine liberal arts colleges recognized in Illinois.

Unlike many college guides, the Washington Monthly College Rankings examine "not just what colleges can do for you, but what colleges are doing for the country," according to the editors.

Criteria for evaluating colleges include support for community service, research, and commitments to access and affordability.

In the area of service, Washington Monthly includes data on the percentage of students joining the Peace Corps and ROTC programs, along with the percentage of federal work-study dollars spent on community service. Knox expends 36% of its federal work-study funds to support student jobs in community service - making it eighth in the nation in support for community service.

"Knox students are committed to making a difference in the lives of those around them," notes Kathleen Ridlon, coordinator of Knox's Center for Community Service. "In 2009, Knox students contributed more than 7,000 volunteer hours to the Galesburg area. Many of them also get internships or are employed with local non-profit organizations," Ridlon adds.

Washington Monthly determined each college's support for "social mobility" based on graduation rates and the percentage of students receiving need-based federal Pell grants. Knox data show 21% of students receiving Pell Grants and a 75% graduation rate -- both deemed to be key factors in upward mobility for first generation and low-income students.

"Since its founding, Knox has been committed to being an engine of social mobility and to educating students who will go out and make a difference in the world," said Paul Steenis, vice president for enrollment and dean of admission.

"This recognition by Washington Monthly reminds us to get beyond the superficiality of trophy-hunt rankings like U.S. News and, instead, think substantively about the values and the missions of the colleges we choose to attend," Steenis said. "At Knox, those values inform what goes on in the classroom every day, and they shape the aspirations of our students, not just to be successful in life, but also to contemplate how they themselves are giving back to society."

In the area of research, Knox ranks 68th in the nation in the proportion of graduates who go on to earn PhDs.

"One reason Knox students are so well prepared for graduate school and PhD-level research is the extent of undergraduate research," Steenis said.

"More than 90 percent of Knox students work with faculty -- who are themselves accomplished scholars and artists -- to complete an independent study, research or creative project prior to graduation. And Knox awards more than $250,000 in College funds annually to support research and independent creative work by students."

Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 45 states and 48 countries. Knox's Old Main is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.