Coker Jumps to No. 73 in Washington Monthly’s Rankings

For more information, contact Barb Steadman - 843.857.4199

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – August 30, 2012 – Washington Monthly’s September-October issue ranks Coker College No. 73, up from No. 96 last year, among the baccalaureate colleges in the nation that contribute most to the public good.

“Last year’s top 100 position may have caught some off guard,” Coker College President Robert Wyatt said, “but I’d wager most of our alumni were not among the surprised.  They know first-hand what roundtable discussion-based learning, small classes and a committed faculty means.

“These hallmarks of a Coker education mean – just as the rankings intend to reveal – that Coker College is an institution that keeps its promises.   And, obviously, our alumni do the same, giving back through cutting-edge scholarship and a life-long commitment to service.”

Washington Monthly ranks schools based on three broad categories: Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and Ph.D.s) and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country). This year, 352 baccalaureate colleges were included on the list.

Of the various measures that contributed to the overall rankings, four, in particular, elevated Coker to the top tier: research expenditures,  No. 30, graduation rate, No. 44, community service, No. 53, and academic and administrative support of community service, No. 39.

The ranking categories that showed the biggest improvements for Coker were in the bachelor’s to Ph.D. ranking, which moved from No. 154 last year to No. 106 this year, and Coker’s graduation rate ranking, which changed from  No. 128 last year to No. 44 this year.

Early in 2011, Wyatt appointed Associate Professor of Biology Joe Flaherty as the college’s first director of undergraduate research.

“As a means to learning opportunities beyond the classroom setting, undergraduate research has been demonstrated to help students achieve greater gains in personal initiative, problem solving and communication skills in addition to stronger enrollment in graduate studies and increased employment in major-related fields,” Flaherty said.

“Undergraduate research provides significant one-on-one faculty-student mentoring while students learn valuable skills relevant to graduate and professional studies and to a career,” Flaherty added.  “Clearly, the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research makes student résumés more attractive to graduate schools and prospective employers and gives faculty-mentors the ability to write much more detailed letters of recommendation.”

In 2011, Wyatt also appointed Dean of Students Jason Umfress to convene and lead a new team to develop, propose and implement a strategy to provide effective student support and intervention systems to ensure that Coker’s students are equipped to reach the highest goals to which they aspire.

“Creating an atmosphere where students can be successful is paramount,” said Umfress.  “Taking a roundtable approach to our student retention and success initiatives has given us the opportunity to address student concerns in a personal, one-on-one manner that is uniquely Coker.

“An increase in any measure of institutional effectiveness is always nice to see, but to our team these data translate as an increase in the number of students we have helped to achieve their goal of graduation.  That’s why we are in this business, and that’s what makes all our work worthwhile.”

For more information about Washington Monthly’s 2012 rankings, visit

For information about admission to Coker College, visit


Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the “Best Colleges” in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, S.C., Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.


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