Gene Roche, our Director of Academic Computing, asked me a great question by email today. “If we are the best small public university in America, who is number two?”
I didn’t know the answer right away. It depends, of course, on how one parses the language. If we cede the word “best” to U.S. News methodology (which is a dubious beginning) and restrict the field to national universities, we’re left with the subjective matter of what makes a place small. By Carnegie Classifications, 3,000 full-time students is the threshold after which a place is mid-sized, but we tend to think in relative terms of W&M and its 5,500 undergrads as small, especially among the other top publics.
Interestingly, the next highest-ranked institutions that are both public and as small or smaller than W&M are: Colorado School of Mines, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Michigan Technological University would be next (and the last entry among the top 125), but it’s slightly larger than W&M at 5,846. Notably, all five are niche institutions for science and technology, which means we also could say W&M is the only small, public, liberal arts institution ranked as a top national university by U.S. News.
But that’s a mouthful.
– Henry Broaddus