U.S. News and World Report ranks Dixie State among top regional colleges

ST. GEORGE — U.S. News and World Report ranked Dixie State University among the nation’s best colleges and universities for the second year in a row.

The Brooks the Bison statue welcomes students to the Dixie State University campus in St. George, Utah, Aug. 27, 2019 | File photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

The university earned its place in the Regional Colleges West category at No. 25 of 1,800 regional schools for focusing on students working toward undergraduate degrees and offering an array of academic programs in a number of disciplines. More specifically, the university ranked No. 6 as a public institution.

Dean of Students Del Beatty said Dixie State’s ranking “speaks a lot about the momentum, the implementation and completion of our strategic plan.” The plan touches on increasing student enrollment, retention rates and infrastructure around campus by 2020.

“It’s helping us to market our name and our brand,” he said. “We’re focusing on the things that we do well, and I think people are resonating with that message.”

Beatty said he has always believed that “co-curricular connections” create well-rounded, happier students, and that is precisely what the university strives for.

Dixie State also placed as a top performer in regards to social mobility. The school is No. 22 in the category that rewards colleges for supporting disadvantaged students with Pell Grants.

Students celebrate at the 108th Dixie State University Commencement ceremony, St. George, Utah, May 3, 2019 | File photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News.

In the future, Beatty said the university will continue to strive for more diverse academic opportunities and student population. Over the past few years, Dixie State has added a number of certificates and undergraduate degrees, and earlier this year, the university’s first graduate class walked the field during the 108th annual commencement ceremony.

According to U.S. News and World Report, information about each college is collected and ranked in order to help potential students begin the process of researching schools. Institutions are assessed on graduation and retention rates, social mobility, undergraduate academic reputation, faculty resources, financial resources per student and average alumni donation rate.

Each factor is weighted differently, with graduation and retention rates weighing the most heavily at 22% and social mobility and average alumni donation rate having the least amount of influence at 5%. Most of the factors have a more detailed breakdown, including class size and student-faculty ratio.

Dixie State has struggled to reach and maintain a high retention rate, but Beatty said that is the nature of being an open enrollment university.

“That is something that is always foremost in our minds and something that we really want to address,” he said.

Students wait to speak with admissions, financial aid and registration experts at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, Aug. 27, 2019 | File photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

The university has an average freshman retention rate of 56%. As an open enrollment institution, Dixie State accepts students regardless of their high school performance or test scores.

“We still have to consider that a success,” Beatty said. “The students were able to at least come and try college, whereas other institutions they wouldn’t have even had that opportunity ever because the rubric to get in, the standard to get in, is so high.”

President Richard “Biff” Williams is scheduled to speak on the university’s current events and projected goals Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the Cox Auditorium at Dixie State University. During his speech, the president will touch on the progress of the strategic plan, the university’s growth over the past 5 years and the move to Division I athletics.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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