State's schools claim bragging rights

August 20, 2013 10:55:46 AM



JACKSON -- Students returning to Mississippi universities over the next few weeks will be stepping foot on campuses known for their research priorities, their green initiatives, their bargains and their beauty -- at least according to several rankings that have placed the state's institutions among the best in the nation. 


Over the last few weeks of summer break, Mississippi schools have been mentioned in several organizations' "best of" lists, a point of pride for the universities and their students. 


These are not an exhaustive look at the state's college and university rankings, rather some of the most recent findings released. 


Mississippi State University continued to rank among the nation's top research universities, according to new data from the National Science Foundation, which released its Higher Education Research and Development Survey for fiscal 2011. 


MSU placed top in the state and 91st nationally among public and private institutions based on $226.1 million in total research and development expenditures. Looking at non-medical school research and development expenditures, MSU ranked 53rd. MSU was also ranked among the top 50 universities in Humanites. 


"These significant totals are the result of very hard work by our faculty, and they represent the commitment we have as a university to providing innovative solutions, creative works and new scholarship that address pressing local, state, regional, national and global needs," said David Shaw, MSU's vice president for research and economic development. 


At 48 percent, MSU's research expenditures accounted for nearly half of the total for Mississippi institutions, the NSF survey stated. The university had more than 4,000 research personnel -- accounting for 60 percent of the total for the state. 


Meanwhile, Delta State University has been recognized for its leading efforts in reducing energy consumption and costs in the state. 


Delta State's focus on energy behavior and awareness helped it reduce energy consumption by 50 percent since 2006. Lower consumption led to more than $4.2 million in realized cumulative savings. 


DSU's green initiative has been listed as the best in the state's public university system. 


"It's been a signature achievement at Delta State," said Greg Redlin, Delta State's chief financial officer. "We've led the system in reducing energy consumption and saved faculty and staff jobs." 


Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena was recognized for its bargain for graduates, according to the College Database's list, 34 Historically Black Colleges That Pay. 


Colleges and universities included on this list have reasonable tuition rates as well as students who earn top salaries immediately after graduation. MVSU ranked 26th with a reported $35,400 per year earned by its recent graduates. 


The University of Mississippi also was recently ranked among the most literary colleges in the country. According to a new report by Flavorwire, a website that covers cultural events, art, books, music and world news, Ole Miss -- ranked No. 12 -- made the list along with Princeton, Sarah Lawrence College, Vanderbilt University, Smith College, New York University and Harvard. 


Writer Jason Diamond, who authored the slideshow presentation, wrote: "Want to write like a Southern author? Live like one; in fact, follow in the footsteps of the Nobel Prize-winning William Faulkner by attending his alma mater. But we don't think you should attend Ole Miss simply based off the fact it has one very famous writer to its name: the school has a great MFA program that features a really great faculty." 


UM also was listed as the most beautiful campus by the Princeton Review this year. 


And along with Ole Miss and MSU, Mississippi University for Women and Belhaven University also were ranked among the best colleges to work for, based on a national survey administered by the Chronicle of Higher Education. 


Belhaven's culture sets the university apart, said President Roger Parrott. "We hire highly gifted people who have a passion for our mission, and then we give our faculty and staff the freedom to do what God has called them to do," he said. "This makes for a winning formula. Unlike most of higher education, we do not build policies and procedures to restrict creativity." 


The Chronicle's sixth annual report surveyed more than 44,000 employees at 300 colleges and universities. The primary factor in deciding whether an institution received recognition was employee feedback, and assessments also included workplace policies and institutional demographics. 


MUW President Jim Borsig credited the ranking to the faculty and staff "for the spirit they demonstrate to ensure we are providing the highest quality education to our students."