Butler University is runner-up again this year, and it’s not because of a basketball game.
Butler clinched the No. 2 spot in U.S. News’ list of best Midwest colleges for the second year in a row, and university officials said they don’t see any need to become No. 1.
“It seems like No. 2 has been the trend for Butler these last few years, but I think it’s a great thing,” said Beth Fontanarosa, two-time Butler alumna and communications coordinator for admissions. “I don’t think we necessarily need to be No. 1.
No. 2 is something to be very proud of because so many specific criteria go into these types of rankings.”
President Jim Danko said he was excited to see Butler high on the charts, but that it’s important not to rely on rankings.
“Rankings have their place, but we shouldn’t necessarily build strategies around them,” Danko said. “We need to build strategies around making sure that we’re consistent with our mission here, which is to offer an outstanding education on an intimate basis for our students. We don’t want to change that strategy just because it would play positively for us on U.S. News.”
Butler has been in the top 10 U.S. News Best Colleges, Midwest Region category for 23 consecutive years.
Seated at number one this year was Creighton University, a private university of comparable size located in Omaha, Neb.
Danko pointed out how the rankings reflect the improvements and success constantly being made at Butler, even prior to entering the public eye with back-to-back Final Four appearances.
“The predominant set of information going into these rankings has to do with characteristics of the school,” he said. “Butler has been rising steadily over the last 10 years, so that predates the basketball success.”
Despite Butler’s success before its basketball fame, Fontanarosa said she is enjoying the national recognition and believes the rankings reflect it.
“I think it is exciting how Butler University is becoming more and more nationally recognized,” Fontanarosa said. “Being from outside of Chicago, people used to ask where Butler was, but now when they see my Butler T-shirt, they say, ‘What a great school!’ or even ‘Go Dawgs!’ which has been a really neat progression.”
Fontanarosa said she expects to improve Butler’s standing in the rankings.
“I think a realistic expectation would be to move up to first place in a few years,” she said. “We just need to be patient.”
While both administrators agree that being represented in the rankings is beneficial for Butler, they also point out that rankings are by no means everything.
“People buy magazines. They want to know the top 10, It’s pervasive in our culture,” President Jim Danko said. “We’ve had great, steady progress in the last 10 years, which is a great reflection of what’s happening here.
“It’s a great credit to the thousands of universities out in this country now for us to be in a major category and to be ranked number two in our region with the types of great institutions that are here.”
Fontanarosa said she wholeheartedly agrees.
“It’s easy to get lost in numbers and rankings, but I think the success, retention and well-being of Butler students are all just as important statistics,” Fontanarosa said.
Sophomore psychology major Michelle Miller also said she agrees.
“I think our ranking is an excellent representation of the university and what Butler is doing for us as students,” she said. “I can easily see us advancing to No. 1 in the future. We’re always working to improve.”
U.S. News deals almost exclusively with rankings of various kinds, including hospitals, cars, colleges and universities, high schools and graduate schools.
Its collegiate rankings take a lot into account, including size, cost of tuition, enrollment, student-faculty ratios and numerous other factors.
“I take a lot of pride in the fact that we’ve done well in this ranking because so many factors go into it,” Danko said. “They’re not necessarily the perfect set, and they’re not a complete set, but no ranking is perfect. But we like being recognized.”