PLU Ranked a Top 10 “Value Added” College

Posted by: Date: October 2, 2015 In: ,
Outdoor class at PLU on Monday, April 20, 2015. (Photo: John Froschauer/PLU)

(Photo: John Froschauer/PLU)

Two of the top ten colleges are fellow ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) institutions and three are members, with PLU, of The New American Colleges and Universities.

By Zach Powers '10
PLU Marketing & Communications

TACOMA, WASH. (Oct. 2, 2015)- A business column in the October 2nd edition of The New York Times lists Pacific Lutheran University as one of the top 10 “value added” colleges in the United States.

Featured on the front page of the Business Day section, the column details a recent study by the Brookings Institution that analyzes shortcomings and alternatives to traditional college scoring systems, including the recently-introduced College Scorecard endorsed by the Obama Administration, and influential media rankers like U.S News and World Report.

Brookings’ findings indicate that most college ranking scales follow a long-standing paradigm that rewards institutions that prioritize high-paying professional fields such as engineering, computer science, and the health sciences. The study also suggests that colleges who are able to recruit students with extraordinarily high school test scores and grade point averages often receive more credit than they deserve for their contributions to the professional success of their graduates. As the column points out, high test scores and grade point averages reflect high intelligence and a strong work ethic — two factors that cause high future earnings. That is generally true regardless of where such students attend college, as long as they go to a reputable four-year institution, various studies have shown.

When asked by New York Times business columnist James B. Stewart to list a national top 10 ranking that removed the emphasis on high-paying STEM professions and identified the highest “value added colleges” regardless of major, Brookings fellow Jonathan Rothwell’s response included just two institutions from the west coast, and just one from the Pacific Northwest—PLU.

The list also featured two institutions (PLU and Wagner College) affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and three (PLU, Wagner, and Manhattan College) that are members of the NAC&U.. In a letter to the editor, the presidents of PLU, Wagner and Manhattan College, pointed out that, “half of the colleges listed are examples of a kind of school often overlooked by commentators on higher education.   Known variously as ‘Master’s universities’ or ‘comprehensive universities,’ these institutions are neither research universities nor liberal arts colleges, but a hybrid that combines the best of both, integrating liberal arts education with professional preparation.  Ernest Boyer described them thirty years ago as colleges that ‘colored outside the lines,’ labeled them ‘New American Colleges,’ and predicted a bright future for them.   The emergence of  New American Colleges and Universities as high achievers in rankings based on  ‘added value’ suggests that Boyer was right.”