Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

November 2012

USAO Joins Elite ‘A’ List Nationally


UCO international student Alvin Teh.

Freshmen from the Class of 2016 exit Troutt Hall after a formal Matriculation ceremony confirming them as students of USAO. Maintaining the highest admission standards in the state, USAO received more national acclaim this week as the American Council of Trustees and Alumni awarded Oklahoma’s only public liberal arts university with an ‘A’ grade for the strength of its core curriculum.

Of more than 1,000 universities surveyed nationwide, only 21 scored an ‘A’ grade for the breadth of courses required for graduation – an elite list which, for the second year in a row, includes the University of Science and Arts in Chickasha.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) released its annual report on the state of American education in October.

The report, part of the “What Will They Learn?” initiative, assigns a grade to universities across the United States based on how many of seven core subjects that students are required to study in order to graduate.

The subjects are composition, literature, foreign language, U.S. government or history, economics and mathematics or natural/physical science.

The report goes further by naming USAO to its ‘hidden gems’ list for having “additional core requirements beyond the seven core subjects” and offering “outstanding general education programs.”

“When any Oklahoma institution earns national acclaim, all Oklahomans win,” said Dr. John Feaver, president of USAO and a former 18-year member of its faculty. “USAO proudly serves as Oklahoma’s designated public liberal arts university. This and every national distinction have been the result of collaboration between our regents, faculty, students and alumni to maintain the unique identity and mission of the university.”

Only 16 Oklahoma institutions are ranked on the list of 1,000 schools. USAO is the only university to receive an ‘A’ – in addition to being the most affordable to attend.

Other ‘A-list’ schools include Baylor University, Pepperdine University, three U.S. military academies, University of Dallas and more.

In September, U.S. NewsAmerica’s Best Colleges Guide listed USAO on its top 20 “Least Debt” list for national liberal arts colleges for the second year in a row.

This follows on the heels of a recent survey published in Washington Monthly that identified USAO as third in the nation among its peers for “promoting upwards social mobility.”

“As Oklahomans continue to ride out the difficulties of a tumultuous economy, higher education has an obligation to provide not only an avenue to better employment potential but a framework to better understand our changing world,” Feaver said. “That USAO is nationally recognized for an ‘A-grade’ curriculum that accomplishes both speaks well of the State Regents’ continued support for our vital mission.”

While most universities have general education requirements as part of its degree programs, the boundaries for what is a “math” class or a “history” class have grown more lax over time. In contrast, USAO’s Interdisciplinary (IDS) core has remained the centerpiece of the university’s degree program since the mid-1960s.

“The loosening of academic standards at universities across America has been one of the great educational crises of our time,” said Dr. Dex Marble, vice president for academic affairs. “At USAO, we have kept our focus for more than a half-century on classical models of education, resulting in a type of academic demand not found at most universities, public or private. It’s a great honor to see that recognized nationally,”

Marble served previously as a 25-year member of the USAO faculty who was instrumental in shaping and preserving the interdisciplinary core curriculum.

ACTA President Anne D. Neal explains the report’s goal: “Our website asks a simple question about today’s students: What will students learn? Many college guides and ranking systems measure institutions’ prestige and reputation, but no guide has looked at what students are actually required to learn. That’s what we are doing here.”

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