Not just a number - The Echo News
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Not just a number

For the seventh straight year, Taylor is ranked number one

Kari Travis and Blair Tilson | Echo

For the seventh straight year, Taylor has finished at the top of U.S. News and World Report’s roster of best small colleges in the midwest.

The rank, which saw Taylor running against 109 other universities in the region, was announced Sept. 10. Colleges included in the study span twelve states and feature a liberal arts structure similar to Taylor’s, according to Bob Morse, director of research at U.S. News and World Report.

“While these rankings imperfectly reflect any institution, we believe they nevertheless provide some external validation of the great educative work of our faculty and staff as we equip students to minister Christ’s redemptive love and truth throughout the world, no matter their vocational calling,” said Taylor president Eugene Habecker.

But while the number looks great on a piece of paper, or even a magazine cover, the question of what a top ranking represents is better answered by those people who reflect the elements behind Taylor’s seven years of high accolades.

“Ultimately, the greatest measure of our success is displayed through the faithful service in multiple vocations of our more than 20,000 committed, Christ-following alumni hard at work serving around the world,” Habecker said.

Garry Dyer, president of Taylor’s Alumni Council, views Taylor’s seven-year stretch at the top of the standings not only as a marketing boost, but also as strong representation of all the university has done to achieve its mission.

“It just doesn’t happen by chance to get that (award),” Dyer said. “It takes stronger leadership to pull, to set a vision and to get all aspects of it working.”

It is that vision Dyer views as the drive behind Taylor’s success. Because the number one placement means so much to alumni who want to see the legacy live on, Taylor’s goals continue to be focused on students, Dyer said.

Trent May, a Taylor alumnus and parent, finds the ranking to be a great tool for pointing others to Taylor.

“It serves as a launchpad for discussion. . . and is helpful in talking to other parents who are looking for a solid school for their kids,” May said.

While the title of “number one in the midwest,” may certainly hold appeal, prospective students aren’t drawn to Taylor solely because of prestige, but also because of the university’s faculty, staff and student body, according to Amy Barnett, director of admissions.

“That’s what the parents are more interested in,” Barnett said. “They see number one, and they go ‘what does it mean? (It means) everything from alumni giving to retention rates. That’s a big one. . . And our number is just so far beyond any of the other schools in the category, in the retention area.”

For junior Stephanie Kaloustian and senior Rachel Bartow, the ranking was not a factor in their coming to Taylor, but is something they now look on with a sense of pride.

“I didn’t actually know about (the ranking) prior to Taylor, but knowing that now helps when I am telling other people about where I go to school. . . it’s something I’m proud to tell them,” Kaloustian said. “I also think it says something about our faculty especially, just their dedication to education and serving their students.”

Bartow, while appreciative of the title, finds other aspects of Taylor to be more important to her, like her education, spiritual maturity and relational growth.

“ For me. . . the best thing here is the friends I’ve made and the relationships that will last me forever.”

It truly is the relationships, not the accolades, that matter, according to Barnett. And if Taylor does not rank number one next year, the university—administrators, faculty, students and alumni—would still hold to the same goals and values.

“We tell our story for what it is,” Barnett concluded. “We talk about discipleship. We talk about the intense academics that are here. The intentional community that it is. But we don’t sugarcoat it. So no, we’re not perfect people. And this place has its own messes at times. But there’s a growth that happens while you’re here.”

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