Kaitlyn Tambasco, Managing Editor
With an enrollment of under 4,000 and a campus size of 128 acres, Utica College moved up in U.S. News and World Report’s rankings for Best Regional University in the North.
UC moved from placing 120 to 86th, tying with the College of Saint Rose, Westfield State University, Saint Peter’s University, Cedar Crest College and College of Our Lady of the Elms. The list compiles 179 different schools.
The college also made an appearance on a new list, now ranking 61 on the 2020 Top Performers of Social Mobility, out of 170 schools in the north. UC is tied with Bowie State University, Salem State University and Suffolk University.
Social Mobility measures how well a college or university educates more economically disadvantaged students who have family incomes that are below the national median and graduates them into jobs with good salaries.
Senior Vice President for Student Life and Enrollment Management Jeffery Gates said the college’s focus on retention and completion and the gains made have helped the college move up in the rankings. In addition, there is a peer assessment score, which is made up from surveys of college presidents, provosts and vice presidents for enrollment who rank institutions.
Additional rankings including the College of Distinction badges, the MBA program, cyber security grants from the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as others, might have also impacted the rankings, according to Gates.
He said the college’s good work has not gone unnoticed by peers across the country.
“As an enrollment manager and a counselor to families in the college search process, the rankings serve as a starting point for many families,” Gates said. “They look to the guidebooks as a place to begin making a list and being in the top 100 certainly puts Utica on the list for many families.”
Gates said once a student looks deeper at the college, then they are able to talk further about the benefits of a UC experience. When a family visits the college and has a conversation with faculty, staff and students, they get the UC experience and then seek to take the next steps to enroll.
“Being at the forefront in the national conversation about college access and affordability has certainly put the college on the map and helps to promote our peer score,” Gates said.
Senior Kristen Przybylo said her time at UC has flown by since she transferred in. She said she thinks some other reasons that the college moved up in best regional university ranking is because of the professors.
“They genuinely care about you,” Przybylo said. “They don’t harp on you if you happened to miss class, but I have a professor that emails me whenever it’s bad weather telling me that I don’t have to come to class for 8:30 a.m. because of my hour commute in.”
Przybylo said she has never had a bad experience with any professors, and that’s what she loves about Utica. She described it as a family feeling.
As for improvements, Przybylo said in order for the college to better serve their students, they should possibly look into upgrading the residence halls. She said when she lived in Boehlert Hall, she was irritated that all of the residence halls had their own parking lot except for that one. She said this could help immensely if coming back from the grocery store or when it snows.
Other improvements Przybylo noted have been the food served in the dining hall as well as the upgrades on academic buildings and new housing options.
“Our new academic building, Thurston Hall, and our new residential hall, Pioneer Village, are great attributes to the college,” Przybylo said. “These, on top of our faculty and staff make a great college overall.”
Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Psychology Child-Life Dave Roberts will begin 17 years of teaching at the start of the 2020 semester. Even though he did not know much about the rankings, he said he thinks there are significant reasons as to why the college moved up.
He said being able to teach has given him the opportunity to do something he loves in a community that he loves. Roberts explained that over the years, he has had the privilege to work with some wonderful, diverse students, which makes every semester a fresh experience for him.
“What I observed then and what I observe now is essentially the same: a commitment to providing the best possible experiences for our students,” Roberts said. “I don’t know if that was directly related to our college moving up on the rankings for ‘best college in the northeast’ but to me, that is an important requirement for the success of any college or university.”