Magazine ranks University of Maine at Fort Kent among top colleges in region

Posted Aug. 18, 2010, at 9:42 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:53 a.m.
Members of the University of Maine at Fort Kent Class of 2010 are piped out following the campus' commencement exercises Saturday in Fort Kent.  JULIA BAYLY PHOTO
Members of the University of Maine at Fort Kent Class of 2010 are piped out following the campus' commencement exercises Saturday in Fort Kent. JULIA BAYLY PHOTO

FORT KENT, Maine — Just two weeks after it was once again singled out as a “Best Northeastern College” by The Princeton Review, the University of Maine at Fort Kent was listed Tuesday in the top tier of “Best Regional Colleges” for 2011 by U.S. News & World Report.

U.S. News & World Report is a monthly newsmagazine published in Washington, D.C.

The Fort Kent school and the University of Maine at Farmington were ranked among the top 50 colleges in the north region. UMFK also was ranked among the 15 best regional public colleges in the listings. The college has made the list in the past as a third-tier-status university, but it has risen to top-tier status this year.

“We are very excited about this,” Wilson G. Hess, president of UMFK, said Wednesday. “This is well-deserved and it is about time that we received this recognition. It is quite elite company to be among the 15 best regional public colleges in this listing. It says a lot about what we are doing here academically and as far as offering a high-quality education at a quality price.”

The U.S. News rankings are based on measures that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality, according to the magazine’s website. Some of the indicators used for the ranking included peer assessment, faculty resources, alumni giving, and graduation and retention rates. Scores for each measure were weighted as a percentage to arrive at a final overall score.

The 2011 U.S. News rankings are geared toward helping prospective students and their families identify colleges and universities that are right for them.

Founded in 1878, UMFK educates about 1,200 undergraduate students on its 52-acre campus.

Hess said college officials have not yet analyzed the data from this year’s ranking compared with previous U.S. News rankings, but Hess said the college improved on its previous tier rankings for a number of reasons.

“We have seen significant improvements in our four-year retention rates,” he explained. “We also have seen an increase in our general reputation, and our alumni giving is up as well. We are seeing more alumni contribute to our annual campaign. Those are just some of the things, but I think we are also in the news more now for the good things we are doing, as far as being recognized for six years by the Princeton Review and by U.S. News.”

The news comes on the heels of the Fort Kent college being one of 218 institutions The Princeton Review recommends in its “Best in the Northeast” section of its website feature, “2011 Best Colleges: Region by Region,” which was posted Aug. 2 on PrincetonReview.com.

According to UMFK’s profile on the Princeton Review’s website, students at UMFK said the college provides them with a high-quality education at a state school with “very reasonable tuition.”

Students also said Fort Kent’s location makes it “a natural choice for students of forestry, wildlife sciences, and environmental studies.”

The profile pointed out that UMFK students said the school’s proximity to the rich forests and waterways of the St. John Valley allow them to go on field trips just five minutes away from the campus and be “completely submerged in hands-on experiences that will aid students when filling out their resumes.”

Hess said UMFK faculty and staff were “thrilled” with the news about the ranking.

“This will really start out our fall semester on a high note,” Hess said Wednesday. “For some time, folks have known that our small campus, excellent faculty, and committed staff provide a wonderful educational opportunity for the people of the St. John Valley. UMFK now is being justly recognized as a university of regional excellence.”

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