A Washington, D.C.-based magazine has ranked Fresno State No. 25 on a list of the country’s top universities, alongside Ivy League institutions.
Washington Monthly picked Stanford University, Harvard University and MIT the top three. The magazine states the ranking is its answer to the annual list compiled by U.S News & World Report, which Washington Monthly criticizes for using “crude and easily manipulated measures of wealth, exclusivity, and prestige to evaluate schools.”
U.S. News & World Report’s most recent rankings list Fresno State No. 52 in the West, behind schools such as No. 37 Fresno Pacific.
In relative anonymity, they are achieving the goal politicians and pundits say is vital: affordable, high quality college education.
Washington Monthly on Fresno State’s accomplishments
The Washington Monthly ranking is based on universities’ “contribution to the public good,” focusing on three main categories: social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarships and PhDs) and service (encouraging students to give back).
UC Merced also made Washington Monthly’s national ranking at No. 41. The magazine graded more than 300 universities. And Fresno Pacific checked in at No. 18 for “Best Bang for the Buck” in the Western Region.
The magazine points to Fresno State’s high number of first-generation students and Pell Grant recipients, saying the university has a higher graduation rate than is typical, given those demographics.
Fresno State students earn more post-college and outperform their peers in paying down student loans, according to Washington Monthly. Fresno State also spends 59 percent of its federal work-study funds on public service, which is the best of any university in the magazine’s national rankings.
“Universities like (Fresno State) never show up on conventional ‘best college’ rankings. They aren’t the most exclusive, and they don’t have football teams playing on New Year’s Day,” Washington Monthly said. “Yet in relative anonymity, they are achieving the goal politicians and pundits say is vital: affordable, high quality college education.”
Fresno State President Joseph Castro held a news conference Monday to celebrate the new rankings. While Fresno State has been recognized by Washington Monthly in the past, this is the first time the university has made the national list. That’s due to Fresno State being reclassified as a doctoral university last year by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education system.
“To be ranked No. 25 on that list demonstrates that we really are being bold, and that boldness has been recognized on a national stage. What makes this ranking so important is how their measures are particularly meaningful to the Valley, state and nation,” Castro said.
“We’re aiming higher. We’re not stopping here, so that our students can richly impact lives in the Central Valley and beyond.”
What makes this ranking so important is how their measures are particularly meaningful to the Valley, state and nation.
Fresno State President Joseph Castro on Washington Monthly list
Fresno State received a record amount of grants and contract awards during the 2015-16 fiscal year, totaling more than $42 million.
Fresno State Provost Lynnette Zelezny pointed to the university’s recent research on the drought’s impact on the San Joaquin Valley as part of its work that makes it stand out. Fresno State also was involved in research that helped solidify the finding of “the God particle,” making it the only California State University research tied to a Nobel Prize.
“Our sense of place as a major university at the center of the San Joaquin Valley presents us with unique challenges and opportunities,” Zelezny said Monday. “Here at Fresno State, we believe we have a special obligation to work on issues that are significant and important to our community and region.”