Education

When it comes to best schools, Fresno State ranks among top dogs

Fresno State’s economic influence in the Valley

Dr. Antonio Avalos, chairman of the Economics Department at Fresno State, talks about his report citing the university's economic influence in the Valley.
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Dr. Antonio Avalos, chairman of the Economics Department at Fresno State, talks about his report citing the university's economic influence in the Valley.

California State University, Fresno has been ranked No. 17 nationally by Washington Monthly, a publication in the nation’s capital that has ranked American colleges and universities for more than a decade.

The college jumped from No. 25 last year. The ranking system combines academic success with economic opportunity.

Others on the list include six Ivy League schools, six University of California campuses, MIT and Stanford University, which tops the list. The only other Mountain West school singled out was Utah State, at No. 13.

Fresno State President Joseph Castro made the announcement Monday morning at the Jordan Agricultural Research Center to cheers and applause from officials at the college, dignitaries and students.

“We are delighted to receive this prestigious recognition, alongside other premier public and private universities in this country,” he said. “This year we moved up in the rankings eight spots.…We’re now No. 17.”

Last year, when Fresno State was ranked No. 25 by the magazine, it marked the first time the university made the top 30 of a rankings list, Castro said.

With the release of the 2017 rankings, just seven public universities are ranked ahead of Fresno State in the top 30, he said.

Fresno State is now on a list of top 30 universities in the United States. That includes MIT, Brown, Stanford, Harvard, UC campuses – we’re in good company.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, a Fresno State alum from the class of 1972, said the university is making a name for itself around the country and even globally.

“Fresno State is now on a list of top 30 universities in the United States,” he said. “That includes MIT, Brown, Stanford, Harvard, UC campuses – we’re in good company.”

The rankings focus on social mobility, research and service. An article in Washington Monthly said it offers “a different kind of college ranking.”

The magazine also noted Fresno State’s “stellar graduation rate” compared to schools with similar admissions records. Seventy percent of Fresno State students are the first generation of their families to go to college.

“Fresno State was also the No. 1 school in the national university category in commitment to spending federal work-study funds on public service,” the college said in an announcement. “At Fresno State, 69 percent of the work-study funds go to service.”

Besides Brand, other elected officials who represent the area were in attendance: Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare; Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno; Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno; and Fresno City Councilman Paul Caprioglio.

Fresno State opened in 1911 with one full-time faculty member and 150 students taking classes courses in domestic arts, science and agriculture. Today, the university has an economic impact on the region of $750 million a year.

Hugo Morales of Fresno, a member of the California State University Board of Trustees, credited Castro since he took over as president four years ago.

“It shows the importance of a president who focuses on learning,” Morales said. “A few leaders can transfer their vision to others to make it a reality and he’s one of them.”

UC Merced ranked

Meanwhile, the University of California at Merced said Washington Monthly had ranked it among the top 10 universities in the nation for the success of its first-generation and underrepresented students.

“The university received high marks in areas related to social mobility, placing No. 3 in the nation for graduating Pell Grant recipients at higher-than-predicted rates,” UC Merced said.

Lewis Griswold: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold

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