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UMBC is nation’s top ‘up-and-comer’

For the sixth consecutive year, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County was ranked the No. 1 “up-and-coming” university in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

UMBC also ranked No. 5 on the list of national universities committed to undergraduate teaching, as opposed to prioritizing research. The “national universities” category is comprised of public and private schools that award bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.

“We’re really proud to lead the [up-and-coming] list and also for our undergraduate education recognition,” said UMBC Provost Philip Rous. “Both of those rankings recognize this constant and continuing commitment to innovation.”

But after six years as the country’s most promising up-and-comer, does Rous think it’s time for UMBC to actually “arrive,” and claim a spot among the nation’s best universities, without the qualifier?

In a word: No.

“In terms of our mission, it’s not actually about getting [to a certain rank],” Rous said. “It’s about finding new ways to support our students and provide them with the best experience on our campus. We want to continuously get better, and the up-and-coming designation just recognizes that we are still doing that, still moving forward year after year.”

Other schools on the up-and-coming list have shown more movement over the years, either losing ground or “graduating,” if you will, to higher spots on the national list.

Rous said the top spot on the up-and-coming list signifies that UMBC’s progress has not slowed down, unlike universities that are ranked higher overall but have recently been slipping.

For example, the University of Maryland, College Park was No. 8 on the 2012 up-and-coming list, when UMBC held the No. 1 spot.

The flagship College Park campus was, and still is, ranked higher than UMBC overall, but that position has been eroding. College Park went from No. 55 on the list of best national universities overall to No. 62 last year and again this year.

UMBC, meanwhile, has been climbing higher on the overall list.

In 2011, the university broke away from the “second tier school” designation for the first time, hitting No. 159 and, last year, No. 158 on the list of best national universities.

This year, UMBC is No. 149.

Many of Maryland’s other colleges and universities also received high marks in the 2015 rankings report, which was publicly released Tuesday.

The Johns Hopkins University is still Maryland’s highest ranking-institution, at No. 12 on the list of the best national universities, the same spot as last year. Hopkins and UMBC both made a list of schools that offer high-quality research opportunities for undergrads.

On the list of best public universities, UMCP was No. 20.

Maryland also can be proud of schools like St. Mary’s College of Maryland, which was ranked the nation’s third-best liberal arts college for veterans.

Among historically black colleges and universities, Morgan State University was ranked No. 15 nationwide.

UB falls sharply

U.S. News also ranks universities by region of the country. “Regional universities” offer undergraduate and graduate programs but few, if any, doctoral programs.

Loyola University Maryland was No. 3 on the list of best universities in the north region. Mount St. Mary’s University was No. 19, while Hood College was No. 31.

The University of Baltimore ranked 115th among universities in the north region, down significantly from No. 87 last year. As first reported by The Daily Record on Thursday, the university’s new president, Kurt L. Schmoke, says the school is considering whether to discontinue the four-year undergraduate program  it began in 2007, to return to its historical mission of upper-level and career-oriented education.