Forbes ranks Centre 13th of best U.S. colleges

Centre College has another accolade to add to its growing list.

Forbes magazine ranked the Danville school No. 13 on its recently released list of America's Best Colleges.

The usual suspects topped Forbes' roster of reputable colleges. Princeton University, California Institute of Technology and Harvard University took the gold, silver and bronze, respectively.

Forbes wedged Centre between No. 12 Wabash College and No. 14 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Centre also trumped Stanford University by 10 spots.

“I think what it says is that name recognition and perceived prestige notwithstanding, what really counts is the experiences of the students when they come into the institution,” Centre communication director Mike Norris said. “We feel like class for class and teacher for teacher we offer an experience that competes with any classroom in the country.”

The list of colleges and university is based on a mishmash of criteria collected by Richard Vedder, an economist at Ohio University, and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit group.

They based their rankings on 7 million student evaluations from the Web site, the number of alumni listed in Who's Who in America, the average amount of student debt from each school, the number of students who graduated in four years and the number of students and faculty who have won awards such as Rhodes Scholarships or Nobel Prizes.

For years, Centre has materialized on the lists of publications that attempt to rank the nation's higher education institutions. The school of about 1,200 students is the 44th-best liberal arts school, according to U.S. News and World Report. It's on the Princeton Review's list of the best 368 schools in North America.

Centre's frequent appearances on such lists make it “pretty easy to conclude that educationally, a lot of great things are happening at Centre College,” Norris said.

Centre College President John Roush said he is delighted by the school's latest award but tries not to take the ranking too seriously.

“We know that in and of themselves these rankings have flaws,” he said. “Having said that, I will tell you that when a college or university starts showing up on all of them, it sends out an interesting signal.”

Roush said the college, founded in 1819, will continue to focus on the things that make the school deserving of its high praise and rankings.

“As much as I appreciate that this has happened,” Roush said, “I'm also keeping my wits about me.”