Washington Monthly’s 2013 ranking of liberal arts colleges lists Central College as No. 37 in the country.
The ratings are based on the college’s contribution to the public good in three categories: social mobility, research and service. Of 255 schools ranked, No. 9 Grinnell College and Central were the only Iowa schools within the top 75. Four other Iowa institutions were ranked among the top liberal arts colleges: Simpson College (No. 93), Wartburg College (No. 125), Coe College (No. 131), Luther College (No. 154) and Cornell College (No. 159).
In the category “community service participation and hours served,” Central ranked No. 10 in the U.S. During the 2011-12 school year, the most recent for which complete statistics are available, more than 400 students participated in service-learning activities with community partners, non-profit organizations in central Iowa that serve at-risk populations or promote the arts, sustainability or other important causes.
Last year, Central students completed 73,602 hours of community service. Based on United Way’s estimate of the value of an hour of community service, that translates to $1,572,138.70 of work.
“Service and commitment to community have been embedded in the mission and goals of Central College since its founding in 1853,” said Cheri Doane, director of the Center for Community-Based Learning . “Our community partners provide extraordinary opportunities for students to enrich learning while strengthening our central Iowa community, and it’s an honor to be recognized by Washington Monthly for our work.”
Central was ranked 15th for “service staff, courses and financial aid support.” The Center for Community-Based Learning—one example of the institutional support for service at Central—identifies the needs of the community partners, as well as the academic goals of students, when setting up the long-term partnerships. More than 40 courses in 15 departments include a component of sustained, semester-long service. In addition, all seven semester-long Central College Abroad programs offer service opportunities. Central also gives community service scholarships.
In addition to the Washington Monthly honor, Central was previously named to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Honor Roll recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities.
“These rankings are external affirmation that the work of our students, faculty, and staff aligns with the values of the college,” said Mary Strey, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty. “Our commitment to global experiential learning is rooted in a commitment to our relationships within the communities in which we live, work and learn.”