EnvironmentalScience.org ranked Western fifth in the U.S., ahead of prestigious schools including Colorado College, the University of Washington and Willamette University. The organization ranks universities nationally based on the colleges' locations, environmental practices, faculty, opportunities to study abroad, teaching methods, program breadth, degree levels offered and the quality of their academic research.
Dr. John Hausdoerffer, a professor of Environment & Sustainability who was just named executive director of Western's Center for Environment & Sustainability, calls this is a particularly proud moment for the university.
"This designation recognizes efforts from across campus," he says. "From field-based Environmental Science courses in our Natural Science majors, to the breadth of our Environment & Sustainability major and environmental education emphasis in Recreation, to the professional nature of our coordinated Business/ENVS major, to campus sustainability successes to reduce greenhouse gases, this award is for all of us to be proud of. Most of all, it recognizes our world-class learning laboratory: the Rocky Mountains that surround our campus."
The national publication Colleges of Distinction based its inclusion of Western on four distinctions: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant campus communities and successful outcomes.
High school college counselors and educators nominate colleges and universities for recognition by Colleges of Distinction, which then evaluates each school based on qualitative and quantitative research. The colleges and universities are not ranked, but instead, are members of a consortium of other equally impressive schools.
Colleges of Distinction looks beyond rankings and test scores to find colleges that are ideal places to learn, grow and succeed. The selection process reviews such factors as a school’s first-year experience, general education program, experiential components of its curriculum, its strategic plan, and alumni success and satisfaction.
“We focus on colleges that are deeply dedicated to students' learning,” said Tyson Schritter, executive editor of Colleges of Distinction. “Schools designated as Colleges of Distinction offer innovative learning experiences that educate, nurture and transform students."
Western President Dr. Greg Salsbury says, “It’s really exciting to see that our efforts and quality are getting noticed, including our outstanding faculty, low student loan debt and postgraduate success. Colleges of Distinction and EnvironmentalScience.org join Forbes, Business Insider and high school counselors across the country who are recognizing Western as one the best educational investments in the country.”