William Woods continues to move up in U.S. News rankings

For the fourth year in a row, William Woods University has moved up in the rankings of universities in the Midwest. The rankings are published in the 2014 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Colleges issue.

WWU jumped 13 spots in the past three years, from 99th in 2010 to 86th in this year’s 30th edition of the college rankings. Altogether 621 regional universities were evaluated.

“This ranking solidifies William Woods University’s position among the leading universities in the region,” Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, WWU president said. “It is excellent news for our stakeholders, particularly our alumni and students, as the value of their educational investment continues to increase. I am delighted that William Woods is receiving the recognition it richly deserves.”

Barnett added, “We take our responsibility to our students very seriously, for we know we play an important role in the lives of these young people, and we provide the best education possible.” Regional universities, the category where William Woods is ranked, offer a full range of undergraduate majors and master’s programs but few doctoral programs.  The universities are not ranked nationally but rather against their peer group in one of four geographic regions—North, South, Midwest and West—because, in general, they tend to draw students most heavily from surrounding states.

Included in the Midwest classification are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Only four private universities in Missouri were included in the top 100 Midwest regional universities.

Over the past two decades, the U.S. News Best Colleges issue has grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities.

The 2014 Best Colleges package provides a thorough examination of how 1,376 accredited four-year schools compare on a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence. Among the many factors weighed in determining the rankings, the key measures of quality are graduation and retention rates, peer assessment, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performance and alumni giving.

The exclusive rankings are contained in the 2014 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges guidebook. The guidebook is available at www.usnews.com/colleges and will be on newsstands later this month.

According to surveys conducted at William Woods, students say they choose WWU for many reasons, but three are immediately identified:

  1. the challenging academic programs,
  2. the friendliness of the people—faculty and staff, as well as students who come from nearly every state and approximately 20 foreign countries,
  3. the encouraging environment and the opportunity for involvement—both in the classroom and outside


“William Woods University is strong and vibrant,” Barnett said. “We are fortunate to have excellent faculty and staff who work together to ensure that our Number One Priority—our students—live and learn in the exceptional environment that they do.” William Woods, she pointed out, offers several unique programs

  • WWU is one of only 30 schools in North America offering a bachelor’s degree in American Sign Language interpreting.
  • WWU is the only school in Missouri to provide a course of study in juvenile justice.
  • WWU was the first school in the world to offer a bachelor’s degree in equestrian science.
  • WWU offers one of only 12 accredited athletic training education programs in the state.
  • WWU provides digital filmmaking and leadership concentrations in communications, along with other popular programs.


Always striving to improve the university for which she has been president since 1990, Barnett mentioned several steps planned for the future, including

  • Adding more online programs,
  • Continuing to revise curriculum in current programs to meet the needs of the current and future job markets,
  • Continuing to bring current courses up to date on use of technology and engaging students in learning, and
  • Establishing stronger collaboration with two-year colleges in providing degree-completion programs that join technical skills with critical thinking skills.


Citing a recent study, Barnett said, “The challenges and changes facing William Woods University—the same challenges facing every other institution of higher education—are growing competition for new populations of students; the opportunities, costs and uncertainties of new technology; declining financial support; rising tuition; and increasing student debt. But she added, “We are committed to a proactive and enthusiastic attitude as we bring the best academic programs to our students.”