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Centre tops list of Best Colleges of the South

Centre College in Danville is No. 1 on's list of the 20 "Best Colleges of the South."

Berea College is No. 19 and Transylvania University in Lexington is No. 20 on the same list, released this week.

"In the heart of Kentucky," Forbes says of Centre, "there is a school that outperforms Ivies, boasts some of the most fiercely loyal alumni in the world, and guarantees graduation within four years — or it will pay for an additional year of tuition-free study."

Forbes noted that Centre has a small student-to-faculty ratio (11 to 1 for the 2009-10 school year).

"Centre College's small size is often credited as a factor in its success," the article says, "since teachers can more easily interact directly with students."

Centre produced 17 Fulbright scholars in the last decade. Its alumni include two U.S. vice presidents, a chief justice of the United States, 13 U.S. senators and 43 U.S. representatives.

Forbes and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity "emphasized the quality of students and school graduates, as opposed to the quality of students it admits."

"To construct the list, the staff at CCAP based 25 percent of the rankings on student satisfaction with their course instruction; 25 percent on indicators of post-graduate employment success; 20 percent on the estimated average four-year student loan debt; 16.67 percent on the likelihood that students graduate within four years; and 13.3 percent on student and faculty success in winning nationally and internationally competitive academic and research awards."

In 2009, Forbes ranked Centre No. 14 on its "Top Private Colleges" list. It also was listed among "Best College Buys." Centre is of only 23 schools to appear on both the best colleges and best buys lists in 2009.

Here are the rest of the magazine's Top 20, in order: U.S. Naval Academy, Washington and Lee University, Rice University, College of William and Mary, Hampden-Sydney College, Emory University, Davidson College, New College of Florida, Rhodes College, University of Virginia, Salem College, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Sweet Briar College, Wofford College, Vanderbilt University, Virginia Military Institute, Hendrix College, Berea College and Transylvania University.

To see the full list with photos and information about each, go to