September 11, 2009
Once again, Knox College has been highly ranked by Washington Monthly in the magazine's annual evaluation of colleges and universities based on their contribution to society.
Knox is ranked 51st overall among 253 national liberal arts colleges. The rankings are based on colleges' support for community service, research, and commitments to access and affordability -- "their contribution to the public good," the magazine states.
Unlike other rankings, Washington Monthly bills its rankings as "a measure of not just what colleges can do for you, but what colleges are doing for the country [based on] three criteria: social mobility, research, and service." Each of the three criteria contribute equally to the overall ranking.
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. This year's data show that Knox expends 26% of its federal work-study funds to support student jobs in community service, for a rank of 14th in the nation. Knox also ranked 44th in the nation in the percentage of recent alumni who have joined the Peace Corps.
"Knox encourages and prepares students to go out and make a difference in the world, in their professions and their communities," said Knox College President Roger Taylor. Two recent additions to the campus and the curriculum -- the Center for Community Service, and Knox's first-in-the-nation Peace Corps Preparatory Program -- are helping Knox students enter public service careers, both here in the U.S. and overseas."
In the area of social mobility, Knox data show 21% of students receiving Pell Grants and a 72% graduation rate, key factors in the upward mobility of first generation and low-income students.
"Washington Monthly points out that other rankings -- the ones that focus on institutional wealth -- have 'the right data but the wrong idea,' and we commend Washington Monthly for focusing on the need for colleges to 'serve as engines for social mobility for first generation college students and to mold the minds of future leaders.' That has been Knox's institutional commitment since it was founded," said Paul Steenis, vice president for enrollment and dean of admission.
In the area of research, Knox ranks 68th in the proportion of graduates who go on to earn PhDs.
"Knox students are well prepared for advanced study," explains Lawrence B. Breitborde, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college. "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," Breitborde said. "In addition, Knox awards more than $250,000 in College funds annually to support research and independent creative work by our students. These facts don't show in anybody's rankings, but they are the reasons that our students are so well prepared for graduate school and PhD-level research."
Washington Monthly rankings of liberal arts colleges and national universities are published in the September-October 2009 issue and on the magazine's website.
Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 47 states and 48 countries. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.