In USF’s vision, mission and values statement, one of the University’s strategic initiatives is to “enroll, support and graduate a diverse student body.” In the latest US News and World Report 2022 Best Colleges rankings, USF was placed at number one for diversity and ranked in the top third among national universities in its overall standing.
The University jumped four spots from last year’s diversity rankings, and tied this year with Stanford University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for the top spot.
According to the University’s student demographics, the existing data supports this placement. Last fall, students of color comprised 75.2% of the incoming freshmen class. As of this current fall semester, nearly 70% of the total student population are of color.
Specifically, 22% of total students are of Asian descent, 21% are Latino, 8% are multiracial, and 7% are African American. USF community members have expressed deep pride for the University’s admirable diversity scores. In a statement provided via email, Provost Julia Chinyere Oparah expressed how the rankings are deeply reflective of USF’s focus on its social justice based mission. “Too many institutions of higher education pay lip service to the importance of equity and inclusion, but fail to live up to their stated commitments,” wrote Oparah. “This ranking positions USF as a model for a nation grappling with how to address deep rooted patterns of racism and educational exclusion,” she added.
While the University prides itself on student diversity, its full-time faculty does not quite reflect the same data. As of last fall, white professors made up 56% of full-time faculty, Latino professors made up 10%, and Asian professors made up 15%. However, out of the 453 full-time faculty members, African Americans only made up 4%.
The University says it is always looking to improve its faculty demographics to better reflect the student population. USF’s Senior Vice Provost for Equity, Inclusion, and Faculty Excellence Pamela Balls Organista said, “I look forward to working with our schools and college to develop a diverse faculty community that matches the rich diversity of our student body, and has lived experience in relation to the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, religion, and nation.”
The rankings also highlighted USF’s School of Nursing and Health Professions (SONHP) and overall national standing. SONHP’s undergraduate nursing program ranked 23rd out of 694 undergraduate nursing schools, falling in the top 4% nationwide. This is US News & World Report’s first time to include undergraduate nursing schools in its annual college rankings, given the high demand for nurses due to the pandemic.
Sophomore nursing major Lucy Lundell said USF’s social justice driven values “drew me to USF’s program.” She continued by saying that “cura personalis,” or care for the entire person, is “carried into all aspects of our learning, especially when we enter the clinical setting.”
USF placed as the 103rd best US college overall, 113th best for student excellence, and a top 100 choice for international students. US News was not the only source to highly rank USF. The University was also recognized by the Princeton Review’s Best 387 Colleges Report for 2022. The national survey acknowledged students’ praise for USF’s small class sizes, favorable work opportunities, and beautiful location. “A USF education empowers students to make an impact in the world in an area that [they] are passionate about,” said the Princeton Review.
A week prior to the release of national rankings, USF received another notable achievement as the first Jesuit institute in the world to be officially designated as an Age-Friendly University (AFU). One of only 83 universities recognized by the AFU Global Network, the University welcomes over 1,000 students aged 35 and over each semester who attend USF’s Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning.
Although the University faces new challenges, recent accolades show optimism for USF and its campus community members’ current standing and overall reputation nationally.