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Local Colleges Ranked In U.S. News Report

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POTSDAM - Clarkson and St. Lawrence are up, SUNY Potsdam is down and SUNY Canton is finally on the map.

Such are the results of the U.S. News & World Report's 2012 "Best Colleges" rankings, released online Tuesday. While St. Lawrence University in Canton has advanced from 55th to 53rd among national liberal arts colleges and Clarkson University in Potsdam has advanced from 124th to 119th among national universities, SUNY Potsdam fell from 91st to 98th among northern regional universities and SUNY Canton, which was unranked last year, ranked 43rd among northern regional universities.

"Being in the top tier is something that we are extremely proud of, because it encompasses the entire university in a sense," said Brian T. Grant, Clarkson's dean of admissions. "If you walk the campus, see the energy, see the quality of the students that are coming in - to me, the more I look at these national rankings, the more I think that the reputation is built around our students and our faculty and our physical campus."

In addition to being ranked 119th this year, Clarkson came in at 35th on the list of "Best Value Schools," which compares schools' academic standings to their average cost of attendance. Clarkson's supply chain management program was ranked 15th, putting it in the top 20 programs in the nation for its tenth consecutive year, and its undergraduate engineering program was ranked 76th on the list of Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs.

The U.S. News and World Report also placed Clarkson University on its "A+ Options for B Students" list, which identifies colleges "where nonsuperstars have a decent shot at being accepted and thriving - where spirit and hard work could make all the difference in admissions offices."

"I think we're also an A+ school for A students, but I think that ranking really tells a lot about who we are as an institution," Mr. Grant said. "We do give all of our students the special assistance and resources and personal attention for them to succeed at their own levels. We're extremely proud of our honors program but we're also excited about those students who may not have been the top tier students but come in and do extraordinary things on campus."

Also named to the "A+ Options for B Students" list was St. Lawrence University, which came in 53rd among the country's 252 most prestigious liberal arts colleges. St. Lawrence also received a high score for its 90-percent freshman-to-sophomore retention rate and its 78-percent four-year graduation rate.

"It is valuable on occasion to step back and take a look at how good we are as others see us," St. Lawrence University President William L. Fox said in a prepared statement. "Our excellent, hard-won reputation is immensely important, particularly to prospective students and families as they begin the search for the college or university that will be the right fit. I'm gratified that so many excellent students are finding that fit at St. Lawrence."

As it has been for the past 12 years, SUNY Potsdam was again ranked in the top tier of public and private regional universities in the North, but within that category it fell seven places.

"Rankings like the U.S. News guide will never reflect the full depth of the SUNY Potsdam story, as told best by visiting campus or talking with one of our accomplished alumni. Even so, it is always rewarding for the college's academic rigor and unique programming to be recognized in a national publication," SUNY Potsdam President John F. Schwaller said in a prepared statement. "Our hardworking faculty and staff make the difference in showing our students how to go further with their higher education goals."

At SUNY Canton, college officials were unsure why SUNY Canton was included in the rankings this year and not in the past, but they said they suspected it was due to the college's recent increase in four-year programs and growth in student enrollment. The college offers 21 bachelor's degree programs and has more than 3,300 students enrolled this semester.

"We're pleased to be among the select colleges honored in the U.S. News and World Report rankings# It's nice to be recognized for all of our tremendous progress," SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy said in a prepared statement.

"To my knowledge, this is the first time our college has ever been ranked. I think it additionally speaks to the high-quality students we have been attracting."

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