An increasingly global student body, an exceptional program for first-year students and an overall outstanding academic experience has again earned Lawrence University recognition in the latest U.S. News & World Report’s popular annual college rankings.

In U.S. News’s 17th annual “America’s Best Colleges” report released Friday (8/22), Lawrence was ranked 52nd in the “Best Liberal Arts Colleges – Bachelor’s” category, which comprises 217 of the nation’s leading national liberal arts colleges.

This is the fifth consecutive year Lawrence has been included among the top quarter of institutions in the magazine’s national liberal arts category.

In addition to its best colleges national ranking, Lawrence also was cited by U.S. News in two other categories.

Lawrence’s signature curricular program — Freshman Studies –earned the college inclusion in U.S. News’ listing of “first year experiences,” which was one of eight special categories the magazine calls “outstanding examples of academic programs that lead to student success.”

The categories are not distinguished by institutional size or type. Lawrence’s Freshman Studies program was cited along with other first year programs at Harvard, Yale, and Stanford universities, among others. Colleges and their programs in these specialized categories were ranked based on nominations supplied by college presidents, chief academic officers and deans of students.

Lawrence’s global reach landed it fifth, up from 15th a year ago, among all liberal arts colleges in percentage of international students enrolled, with 12% of last year’s student body comprising students from abroad. For the upcoming 2003-2004 academic year, Lawrence’s 1,300-member student body is expected to include 160 international students from about 45 countries.

“The annual publication of the U.S. News rankings has become something of a national event,” said Lawrence President Richard Warch, “though if they are to be, then I’m pleased that Lawrence has again fared well. Of special note is the recognition of our distinctive Freshman Studies program, which was also recognized by the National Endowment for the Humanities as an exemplary curricular offering and of our serious and sustained commitment to serving an international student population. The students from about 45 countries who will attend Lawrence this year contribute meaningfully to the teaching and learning community and we take great pride in having them here.”

Williams College ended Amherst College’s run of three straight number one rankings by earning the magazine’s top spot in this year’s national liberal arts colleges list. Amherst was ranked second and Swarthmore College slipped from number two year ago to number three this year.

U.S. News and World Report’s annual “America’s Best Colleges” guide uses data from 15 separate indicators of academic excellence such as selectivity, graduation rates, student retention, faculty resources and alumni satisfaction. It assigns a “weight” to each criteria that reflects how much that measure matters. Each school’s composite weighted score is then compared to peer institutions to determine final rankings.

In its rankings, U.S. News evaluates nearly 1,400 of the nation’s public and private four-year schools, dividing them into several distinct categories. In addition to the “best liberal arts college” other categories include universities that grant master and doctorate degrees and colleges that are considered “regional” rather than national” institutions, such as St. Norbert College or UW-Oshkosh.