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U.S. News: ACU a leader in innovation, value

ACU ranked No. 2 in the West in a new category of the nation's most innovative academic Institutions.
ACU ranked No. 2 in the West in a new category ranking the nation’s most innovative academic institutions.
It didn’t take long for Abilene Christian University to land on the newest – and perhaps most distinctive – portion of U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of top colleges and universities.
After being ranked first or second on the publication’s list of “Up-and-Coming-Universities” six of the previous seven years, ACU is No. 2 among regional universities in the West on the new “Most Innovative Schools” list for 2016. The ranking is the result of college presidents, provosts and admissions deans being asked to nominate institutions “making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities.”
ACU was one of just 18 regional universities and 61 in the nation to be recognized, joining others such as Harvard, MIT, Duke, Davidson, Beloit, Butler and High Point.
“We are extremely grateful for that kind of recognition. But in one sense, this new ranking only confirms what others, including our students, have known all along,” said ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91). “We believe we’ve been innovators for each of our previous 109 years. Innovation is something we encourage and honor on our campus, from studying the science of teaching, to being leaders in technology-driven strategies, and to providing the best undergraduate research opportunities in the world.”
Overall, ACU was ranked 17th among regional universities in the West and once again was on U.S. News best-value list of “Great Schools, Great Prices” and “Best Colleges for Veterans.”
At No. 17, ACU is the highest-ranked NCAA Division I Southland Conference-member institutions among 89 regional universities in the West, ahead of Houston Baptist (73rd), Incarnate Word (63rd) and Stephen F. Austin State (87th). Three other Southland members – Central Arkansas (68th), and McNeese State and Nicholls State (tied for 87th) – are ranked in the South region.
Abilene Christian also stood out recently in other “Best Colleges” editions authored by research from Forbes and The Princeton Review.
The university enrolled the second largest freshman class in its history for Fall 2016: 1,070 students (a 9.9 percent increase over 2014) among 4,527 overall.  Forty percent of the freshman class was ethnically diverse and the freshman-to-sophomore retention rate was 80 percent, tying an all-time high for ACU.