SIUE, McKendree make list of top colleges in the Midwest

News-DemocratSeptember 10, 2013 

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville students walk past the statue "Taking Stalk" as they exit the Morris University Center. The statue was made by Dawn Weimer and dedicated in 2007 as a tribute to the two cougars — Chimega and Kyna — which formerly lived on campus from 1968 through 1987. The school's athletics teams are the Cougars.

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Several local universities are ranked among the best in the Midwest on an annual survey, with SIUE rising seven places in its category.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is among the top 10 regional public universities in the Midwest, according to the U.S. News and World Report's list of the best colleges in the country.

The 621 regional universities in the U.S. News rankings are considered separate from national universities because, while they have a full range of bachelor's and master's programs, they have few doctoral programs.

Among all Midwestern universities, public and private, SIUE moved from No. 49 to No. 42. Among the Midwestern public schools, it ranks No. 9.

SIUE Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe cited the university's efforts to provide academic excellence at an affordable price, the efforts of faculty and staff, and efforts to improve for SIUE's steady rise in the rankings.

"Moving up in U.S. News' annual rankings is particularly noteworthy as we position SIUE among the top universities in the Midwest," Furst-Bowe said.

The scores are based on graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, reputation, financial resources and alumni giving, among other things.

SIUE's freshman retention rate is 71 percent with a six-year graduation rate of 52 percent. There is a student-faculty ratio of 18 to 1, with only 10 percent of classes with 50 or more students.

It accepts about 81 percent of applicants. Annual tuition at SIUE is approximately $9,666.

Last month, Washington Monthly ranked SIUE among the top 60 master's degree universities in the nation, and earlier this year was named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in recognition of commitment to volunteerism and civic engagement.

Also on the list of top regional universities: the private McKendree University in Lebanon ranked No. 68.

"The uniqueness of (McKendree) is its philosophy which reflects concern for individual development of its students and its commitment to personalized education," U.S. News explained. "Co-curricular programs are also of importance, as McKendree students participate in community service, voluntary spiritual development, athletics and a wide variety of clubs and organizations meeting student needs and interests."

McKendree President Jim Dennis was pleased to make the list.

"These results continue to affirm that McKendree offers a high quality education compared to other institutions in our region, including many that are considerably larger," Dennis said. "We are proud to be recognized in this category along with other fine universities such as Creighton, Butler, Drake, Xavier and Bradley."

McKendree has a freshman retention rate of 79 percent, with a six-year graduation rate of 49 percent. There are no classes with more than 50 students, and it has a student-faculty ratio of 12 to one.

It accepts about 67 percent of applicants. Annual tuition at McKendree is about $26,050.

Lindenwood University was listed as "rank not published," which the magazine states is listed when schools rank below the top three-fourths of the category.

Lindenwood University has a freshman retention rate of 72 percent and a six-year graduation rate of 41 percent. There are 0.2 percent of classes with 50 or more students, and it has a student-faculty ratio of 17 to one.

It accepts about 66 percent of applicants. Annual tuition at Lindenwood is about $15,150.

Webster University ranked at No. 21 among regional universities. Webster has a tuition of $23,700 per year and an acceptance rate of 59 percent.

"Webster University is a Midwestern school with an international presence," U.S. News wrote of Webster. "Though the school is based in St. Louis, it also has campuses in Geneva, Leiden, the Netherlands, London, Vienna, Shanghai and Cha-am, Thailand. For students, this means a plurality of study-abroad options, as well as undergraduate degrees with an international emphasis, such as global journalism and international business."

Among national universities, Washington University in St. Louis ranked No. 14. It has a tuition of $44,841 and acceptance rate of 18 percent.

"Washington University in St. Louis is a research university that offers a unique environment for undergraduate students to learn and grow," U.S. News wrote. "Unparalleled curriculum flexibility and learning opportunities in a friendly and supportive community inspire undergraduates to explore their interests and develop new ones."

Southern Illinois University Carbondale is listed as a national university and ranks at No. 177. Its tuition is $12,104 per year and it accepts about 51 percent of applicants.

Also on the national list, the University of Illinois placed 41st, the University of Missouri ranked 97th and St. Louis University ranked 101st.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at or Elizabeth Donald at

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