The University of Portland (UP) is now ranked third out of 130 institutions listed in the “Regional Universities – West” classification according to U.S. News & World Report magazine. The university has consistently landed in the upper echelon of the annual rankings, having been ranked second in both 2021 and 2020 rankings. In the 2018 and 2019 rankings, the university placed sixth in the same “Regional Universities – West” category. This ranking marks the 27th consecutive year the University has achieved a Top 10 placement. The full report can be seen on the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges website.
Herbert A. Medina, provost and acting president, says about the latest rankings, “UP continues to be recognized by U.S. News & World Report for our academic excellence, strong retention and graduation rates, and post-graduation success of our alumni. In addition to our high overall ranking in the Regional Universities – West category, we placed second in the peer group for undergraduate teaching.
"It is exciting to continue to ‘turn heads’ as we educate the hands, hearts and minds of our students.”
Among notable measures in the U.S. News & World Report methodology is the University’s 88% average first-year-to-second-year retention rate for the past several years and six-year graduation rates of 82%. UP also ranks second among Regional Universities – West in its approach to classroom teaching. In addition, the university’s Donald P. Shiley School of Engineering’s reputation for excellence remains consistent. This year, the engineering program was again ranked 33rd nationally among engineering schools whose highest degree is a bachelor’s or master’s.
Like many colleges and universities across the country, UP shifted to remote instruction beginning in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded globally. Remote instruction continued for the entire 2020-21 academic year with limited in-person instruction this past spring semester. Last spring, UP made headlines as one of Oregon’s first institutions to unveil plans to return to in-person instruction for the fall semester; resume normal university operations with faculty and staff returning to on-campus work; and to require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for all returning faculty, staff, and students.
To date, UP vaccination rates among students sits at 96.4% percent; 96.6% percent among university faculty and staff. Medina believes multiple factors have contributed to UP’s successful start to the fall semester so far.
Medina added, “We have a multi-layered health and safety approach to our back-to-campus plan this fall. In addition to requiring vaccinations, we have been vigilant about adopting all necessary masking and other safety criteria as mandated/recommended by federal, state, and county levels. With our continued vigilance, I am confident that we are ‘doing it right’ at UP this fall semester, and that we will have a full, successful, in-person fall 2021 semester on our campus.”
UP’s successful return to in-person instruction is supported by a number of strategic moves to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including compliance with Oregon’s mandate for face coverings both indoors and outside. The campus is dotted with multiple clusters of tents to allow for outdoor dining, socializing, and small events. COVID-19 self-tests are readily available in the campus residence halls, Campus Safety Office and the Health & Counseling Center to help determine the extent of any symptoms that may be exhibited. All sporting events with UP athletics also require proof of vaccination for entry.
The fall semester also delivered notable trends among the all-important incoming class of first-year students, even with the ongoing backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. UP attracted 911 first-year students, including 487 (53%) identifying themselves as students of color; and 250 (27%) who are first-generation college attendees from their families. In addition to new first-year students, the University welcomed thousands of sophomores, juniors and seniors back to the campus. UP’s freshmen-to-sophomore retention rate for the class of 2024 is at 90%; the sophomore-to-junior and junior-to-senior retention rates for the classes of 2023 and 2022 are at 93%